Karnataka’s image of a much-awarded e-governance State has got dented after the Comptroller and Auditor General pulled the government up for serious lapses in the implementation and functioning of its electronic procurement system.
In a just released report for the year ended March 2015, the CAG has faulted the State’s e-procurement system for not being a reliable or fully safe database. It found it to be open to hacking; not being transparent or showing all information related to tenders, bidders, their financial status or the blacklisted ones.
The State has a compulsory e-tendering process for all departmental purchases above Rs. 5 lakh under the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement Act, 1999. The audit of the e-tendering processes was conducted during December 2014-June 2015.
While the e-procurement portal is handled by the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms, the report implicitly places some blame on the private IT partner with respect to inadequate, old software and lack of training for government personnel.
The question of a disaster recovery back-up or storage has also been raised.
In the report submitted during the ongoing legislature session, the CAG says, “The e-procurement portal had no information about contracts concluded, works in progress, works completed, goods supplies done, expenditure progress, abandoned works, letters of intent, and works yet to be started.
“Thus the project failed in achieving its intended benefits of transparency and smart governance, leading to a situation where the envisaged end-to-end procurement solution for the Government of Karnataka was used only as a tender processing website even after years of its implementation.”
In February 2015, the portal showed ongoing tenders as 22,279; it included those issued in 2009 and whose validity had expired.
The government did not insist that the officials inviting tenders should update the tender status or provide all the information on works and contractors, it said.
However, the government has told the auditor that some of its suggestions for improvement and correction have been implemented or are being looked into.