Responding to an audit report from the Commission on Audit (COA) that flagged its procurement of P170-million worth of laptops and gadgets, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said the items were intended for the e-learning initiatives of local government units.
In a statement on Wednesday, Aug. 18, the DICT said the gadgets were bought under its Digital Education Program (DEP) to assist LGUs facilitate ICT-enabled education especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Unfortunately, though, these projects were recently flagged by the COA which questioned the regularity of the procurement,” the agency said.
The DICT said it has already responded to the COA’s memorandum, addressing the issues raised and assuaging its concerns regarding the projects.
The tablets and devices were procured through Emergency Cases of the 2016 Revised Implementing Rules (IRR) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9184 and awarded to Lex-Mar General Merchandise and Contractor (Lex-Mar).
The DICT said it found Lex-Mar “to be a technically, legally, and financially capable supplier.” The COA report questioned the supplier as it noted that it is a construction firm instead of an ICT distributor.
But the DICT said while Lex-Mar is engaged in the business of general construction, it is also a wholesaler of office supplies and office equipment, including the supply of computer units and tablets.
“Recent financial statements also indicate that the bidder’s revenue or income exceeds and is capable of sustaining its operations, costs and expenses. This sufficiently shows that Lex-Mar is capable of generating sufficient funds and revenue through various types of activities,” the department explained.
It added: “In fact, Lex-Mar presented several completed contracts which include procurement projects conducted for the local government of Quezon City involving laptops and computer units. These projects were duly completed involving similar types of ICT equipment, for the same procuring entity as the local authority that issued the business permits and authorized the business activities of Lex-Mar.
“Put simply, if the local government unit that issued the permit for Lex-Mar to engage in business respected such permit in their procurement project for computer units and similar ICT devices, then it stands to reason that other government agencies may also rely on such duly issued permits.”
The DICT said the gadgets have already been turned over by the LGUs to student beneficiaries.