The company that wins the bid to supply the computers for the One Laptop Per Family (OLPF) programme is expected to deliver the first batch of instruments sixty days from the date of the contract signing, which suggests that the proposed October roll out for the project may be unrealistic.
The retender for the supply of instruments for the OLPF programme was published on the government procurement website last Saturday and the deadline for the submission of bids is August 2. At a press conference days before the retender was launched, Labour Minister Manzoor Nadir, who has ministerial oversight for the project, said that government was looking to launch the project in October. However, stipulations in the bid documents and general procedural processes suggest that this may not be feasible.
A source in the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) had told Stabroek News that after the bids are opened, they are assessed by an evaluating team. The evaluators prepare a report which is then submitted to the administration of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB). The decision of the evaluating team can, however, be overruled by the administration of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) or Cabinet. Cabinet has to give its ‘no objection’ to a contract before it can be awarded.
The bid document itself stipulates that “the delivery date for the first batch of computers for the One Laptop Per Family (OLPF) will be 50% (13,500) of the total quantity required, shall be 60 days from the date of signing of the contract.
“The delivery date of the second batch of netbooks/laptops, being 50 % of the total quantity required, shall be 90 days from the date of signing of the contract,” the documents added. And even after the computers arrive, they would have to undergo further testing to ensure that they meet the requirements: “Upon receipt of the goods at final destination, the purchaser shall have the right to inspect and/or test the equipment to confirm their 100% compliance with requirements as per contract as well as to ascertain the actual level of performance to project requirements.”
When Nadir was questioned yesterday about the timeline being unrealistic, he disagreed. “October is realistic,” he said in a short response via email.
Meanwhile, the technical specifications of the netbook/laptop, according to the bid documents, must meet or exceed the following specifications:
Display- Minimum 10.1”
I/O ports- 2 USB 2.0, 1 RJ-45, Headphone, Mic, Card Reader; MMC/SD
Video Adaptor- Integrated Video
Operating System- Minimum Genuine Windows 7 Starter
Touchpad- Touchpad with two button function
Battery- Minimum 2 hours battery operational life
Adaptor-Power Cord with AC Adapter 120v/240v 50/60hz
Network (Wireless Data)- 802.11 b/g (Bluetooth optional)
Wired network- 10/100 optional 1000Base-T
Preinstalled Software Applications – Microsoft Office
Starter (OEM),Antivirus with 12 months subscription
where necessary, and Adobe Acrobat Reader
Audio- Built-in Speakers and microphone
Manufacturer Warranty- 1 Year Manufacturer Warranty
(Parts and Labour)
Energy Efficiency- Energy Star or similar
Operating Environment- Tropical Coastal
The first tender for the supply of the computers was quashed after none of the three bidders was found to be sufficiently compliant with the first bid. Under the OLPF, the government plans to distribute 90,000 computers to poor families over the next two years. However, a number of controversies have swirled around the project since its launch. The government has said that 50,000 units are supposed to be distributed this year to single parents, the differently-abled and other persons who are considered members of low-income families.
A pilot for the project was initially launched in January, when 142 computers were ceremonially handed over to students from four entities. It was later disclosed that the computers were bought with a US$50,000 gift from Chinese company Huawei, after it had won a US$14 million contract to lay fibre optic cables here. Earlier this week, the beneficiaries of this pilot were allowed to take the computers into their possession where they will have to teach others how to use them.