No more project delays: Gonzales bill cuts procurement process to just 27 days

At a glance

  • Senior Deputy Speaker Pampanga 3rd district Rep. Aurelio "Dong" Gonzales Jr. files a bill that would cut the 72-day government procurement process down to just 27 days.

FB_IMG_1684398159240.jpg Senior Deputy Speaker Pampanga 3rd district Rep. Aurelio "Dong" Gonzales Jr. (Speaker’s office)

In a bid to speed up the implementation of infrastructure projects, a House leader has filed a bill that would cut the 72-day government procurement process to less than half.

Senior Deputy Speaker and Pampanga 3rd district Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr. said that under House Bill (HB) No.7944, which is pending before the House Committee on the Revision of Laws, the procurement process in the entire bureaucracy would be shortened to just 27 days.

Gonzales said the government procurement system “needs to be updated and streamlined to put an end to recurring delays in the acquisition of goods and services, and the awarding and implementation of infrastructure projects like roads, expressways and school buildings.”

His proposed “Ang Bagong Lipunan Government Procurement Reform Act” would apply to all government agencies and offices, including local government units, state corporations, and state universities and colleges.

He said the huge increase in state expenditures since 2003, when Republic Act (RA) No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act was enacted, necessitates the updating of the law.

Infrastructure spending alone jumped more than ten-fold, from P121 billion out of a national budget of P609 billion 20 years ago, to P1.311 trillion out of a P5.268-trillion outlay for this year, he said.

He added that agencies often blame procurement issues for their perennially low fund utilization rates--something that House members heard once again from agency heads during recent oversight hearings.

Gonzales pointed out that before proposing his new government procurement reform law, he conducted extensive consultations with state agencies and even asked them to submit position papers.

The results of these meetings and the agencies’ procurement concerns and recommendations as contained in their position papers were the basis of his proposed reforms, he stressed.

Gonzales, who is a civil engineer by profession, suggested that the procurement process be shortened to 27 calendar days starting from the first day of the publication of the invitation to bid until the posting of the notice of award and notice to proceed with approved contract.

“This could be done by doing away with post-qualification as it is a duality to the requirement of pre-qualification. The delay in post-qualification is usually due to the agency’s lack of manpower, distance of the location of the project and limited expertise of the contractor,” he explained.

He said the fact that bids and awards committees are ad hoc bodies whose members have other functions and duties in their respective offices contributes to procurement delays.

Gonzales thus recommended the creation of full-time bids and awards committees, whose secretariats should be allowed to receive bids and other procurement documents, a function they do not possess under the present law.

His other proposals include one-time posting, instead of two publications, of notice of award and notice to proceed with approved contract, and allowing the winning bidder to start work or delivery of goods immediately upon his receipt of the notice of award.

He is also proposing that relevant provisions of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1870, which authorizes the government to take over delayed infrastructure projects, and PD No. 1795, which penalizes contractors and subcontractors who violate any provision of their contracts, be included in the proposed new procurement law insofar as they affect the acquisition of goods and services.

Gonzales said his reform proposals “are structured around the principles of economic efficiency, transparency, competitiveness, and fairness".

“They will have a huge impact in addressing delays in the procurement process. Most importantly, they will further improve the timelines of the completion of projects of the entire government and their use and enjoyment by our people,” he underscored.