Fiji Auditor-General Will Look At Election System Procurement As Part Of Yearly Audit

Opposition party leaders have called for independent review of selection process

By Tevita Vuibau

By SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 23, 2017) – The Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) will take into account all concerns relating to the Fijian Elections Office's Electoral Management System (EMS) tender in their 2017 audit.

The tender was awarded to Pakistan's National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) whose officials have been linked to allegedly accepting bribes for fake identification cards.

Reports from Pakistani media in the past three years revealed that some of the cards were allegedly produced for suspected terrorists.

Asked whether there were any irregularities with the tender process run by the FEO, Auditor-General Ajay Nand said yesterday that all concerns would be considered.

"We have noted the concerns raised in the media in regards to the said procurement for consideration in our 2017 audit of the Fijian Elections Office," he said.

Mr Nand said he could not confirm an exact date for the audit but said: "You would be aware the 2017 financial year ends on 31 July 2017."

The National Federation Party had called the Office of the Auditor-General to conduct an immediate independent audit into the tender process and the awarding of the contract to NADRA.

On Monday, Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem said a tender board headed by the FEO director operations Anaseini Senimoli as well as a Technical Evaluation Committee of five IT personnel was established to look at tenders.

He said NADRA beat five other companies for the New Zealand Government funded contract.

"The two committees carried out a rigorous evaluation process as per the FEO finance policy before awarding the tender," he said.

"The FEO internal auditor as well as a rep from the New Zealand High Commission were observers in the process at various stages.

"The tender was awarded based on the assessment by the tender board and the evaluation committee.

"A terrorism financing search was also carried out and it was all clear."

When asked what aspects of the NADRA tender proved pivotal to the company winning the contract, Mr Saneem said they offered the "most competitive pricing".

Mr Saneem said the FEO did not discriminate against international bidders or against local bidders, adding there were various products, services and technical experts that may not necessarily exist in Fiji.

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka asked whether due diligence was carried out on NADRA itself, who was on the panel for the tender as well as confirmation that locals could not do the work.

Mr Rabuka said they would raise the issue of privacy of Fijian voters and the security of information with the FEO.

He also said they would ask what reassurances and measures were in place to secure the confidentiality of voter information.

Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry said the most important criteria when awarding the tender should have been the security of data and not necessarily the most competitive offer.

"There are reports of NADRA officials being arrested and charged by Pakistani authorities for accepting bribes to issue fake IDs and passports," he claimed.

Fiji United Freedom Party leader Jagath Karunaratne said the most reasonable question to ask was why NADRA was picked because it did not specialise in providing solutions like the EMS.

Fiji Times Online.
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