By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Commission on Audit (CoA) Iloilo office has issued a Notice of Finality of Decision (NFD) relative to the disallowed purchase of a laptop computer by the Iloilo provincial government in 2007.

The NFD, which was issued early this week, is a follow up to the Notice of Disallowance No. 2008-003-300 (08) dated December 2, 2008 which nixed the acquisition of an Acer laptop computer for the Provincial Health Office (PHO).

State Auditor 4 Haydee Pasuelo of CoA provincial office, said they did not accept the justification of the provincial Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) on why the laptop computer delivered by the lone supplier was different from the item described in Purchase Order No. B-1273.

The laptop transaction was included in the 2008 Annual Audit Report on the provincial government which outlined why the deal was attended with irregularities.

According to the CoA report, the PHO requested an Acer Aspire laptop computer (model 5920G-302G16N) costing P99,000.

But the lone bidder, Seven Seven Trading, delivered another brand of lesser specification, an Acer Travelmate 6292-101616MI which only costs P59,900.

But the BAC’s inspection team accepted the delivered laptop even if it deviated from what was originally ordered.

CoA also found out that Seven Seven Trading carries only supplies such as computer ink, not a computer distributor.

The supplier is actually a middleman for a computer supplier, the audit agency found out.

The audit body said the transaction “is considered an irregular expenditure since it is in violation of a government policy to acquire the same directly from reputable manufacturers or their duly licensed distributors.

CoA also rapped the BAC for its “failure to exert efforts to attract competitive bidders, especially the duly registered computer stores in the city, to avail of price advantageous to the government.”

The provincial government, through the General Services Office (GSO), justified the deal saying that the delivered unit was upgraded from 1526 MB DDR2RAM to 2 GB DDR2RAM.

“The upgraded unit has higher specifications compared to the one that was bidded out which Acer Aspire 5290 G-302 G16N.  As to its durability, Acer Aspire model is usually used indoor while Acer Travelmate is used for outdoors and could withstand traveling thus considered more durable than the former,” the GSO said.

But the CoA provincial office did not accept the GSO’s justification and recommended the return of the delivered unit and the conduct of a new bidding on the item.

The Iloilo provincial government can still appeal the Notice of Finality of Decision with the CoA regional office.

CoA held Gov. Niel Tupas Sr., the BAC and other officials who released the funds for the laptop computer liable for the controversial deal.