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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Procurement controversies -- Uganda

German firm wins national ID contract
A GERMAN firm yesterday confirmed that it had won the controversial national identification project. The deal comprises the provision of mobile data enrollment systems for the capturing of personal data, the creation of a central population data base as well as the establishment of a personalisation centre for the biometric identity documents

The Government last week signed the contract with the firm at the offices of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The German-based company was, however, sourced in contravention of procurement rules, according to sources. Efforts to get a comment from the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority were futile as the board chairman and executive director were said to be out of the country.

“The deal was treated as confidential and documents related to it were sent to the board chairman and executive director,” said a source at the authority.

Minister for Internal Affairs Kirunda Kivejinja, also chairman of the security committee handling the project, declined to give details on the role played by the Government but said the project would soon be implemented.

“There are certain things that I do not have to go to Cabinet and Parliament for,” said Kivejinja, before asking, “Do you think it is such a big deal? If it is your mandate, you implement it.”

Reasoning that the national identification project was a matter of national security, the minister declined to give details on when and how the project would be implemented.

The revelation that the project has been awarded to the German company brought a new twist to the court battle between the Government and the South African data processing company, Face Technologies.

The firm sued the Government for breach of contract, saying it had an existing contract with the Government to implement the national identity project, having emerged winner in the bidding process in 2006.

Though the Government declined to discuss the fate of Face Technologies, it said the country could not be held hostage indefinitely by the court process.

The IGG stopped the procurement process in 2006 and investigations revealed that the process was marred with irregularities.


FOLLOW-UP REPORTAGE:

ID deal not approved, says PPDA

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