Posted: Wednesday, August 25, 2021. 3:45 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: We have seen documents identified as a payment to SMART, made on the first of July, 2021, for outfitting the Ministry of Finance with Microsoft 365 licenses, the bundled combination of software such as Microsoft Word, Excel, etc.
The payment was for $3,373,154.73 for a one-year period.
A report by the Central Information Technology Office explains that three companies bid in a limited tendering process for the renewal of service as top providers: regional company Inova Solutions, Belize Telemedia Limited, and SMART.
SMART’s bid was lowest of the three when opened, but did not provide for training and other incentives as did Telemedia’s, which was slightly higher at over $3.5 million for one year service. It was also for one year’s service, whereas the other companies offered one and three-year packages with value-added service, including, in the case of Telemedia, training of users of the product.
Government went with the Smart one-year package on the basis of price as recommended by the evaluation bid committee, led by Chief Information Officer Ian Smith.
In a press statement, Government provided all of these clarifications and insisted that the process was “open, transparent and fair. There was and could not have been any interference…” It added that it has a mandate to cut costs wherever possible.
But the matter is still likely to leave a bad taste in some mouths considering that Belizeans publicly own Telemedia, and that the Government has allowed – but denies encouraging – individual Ministries and departments to switch to Smart, where the cost is lower.
We’ll keep following the story.
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