Government’s much-vaunted procurement website www.eprocure.gov.gy is currently inaccessible with the hosts for the website indicating that the “account has been suspended”.
It is unclear when the website first became inaccessible but it has been in this state for the past two days at least. “This account has been suspended,” the hosts Studio 28 Productions have indicated on the site. “Please contact our billing/support department as soon as possible,” the host said. A source indicated that this is a generic message that usually comes up when a payment has not been made. There has been no announcement by the authorities about the website being down.
The website was set up last year August to host all government ads and notices, following the passage of an amendment to the Procurement Act in the National Assembly. Head of thePresidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon later said that the move was a cost-effective measure being implemented by the administration, given the costs associated with print media advertising.
In December, the website was among several government websites that had been reportedly hacked. The others included the Low Carbon Development Strategy website www.lcds.gov.gy and the website of the Government Information Agency’s (GINA) www.gina.gov.gy.
When the procurement website was launched a statement from Office of the President said that the site would enhance accountability and transparency by displaying all current ads and notices according to sectors and categories while maintaining an inventory of past placements.
When the Procurement (Amend-ment) Bill 2010 was passed in the National Assembly last year July, the late PNCR-1G MP Winston Murray had argued that in addition to posting the information on the website the ads should also be placed in the newspapers. This was echoed by AFC member Khemraj Ramjattan.
Since the enactment of the bill, state advertisements only appear in the Guyana Chronicle of the four daily newspapers.
Observers also point out that since the website is now one of the main means of the dissemination of information on procurement ads there should be no downtime as this would be disadvantageous to persons who rely on it. There have been no complaints about the site being down which suggests that it is not well-patronised.
This is one of the arguments that had been raised by critics who had said that many of the bidders for government contracts would not be computer literate and were accustomed to seeing notices in the newspapers. Critics had also said that the limited circulation of the ads could lead to some contracts being channeled directly to favoured contractors.