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'Logic flaws' in NLB's computerised system for selecting, purchasing books: AGO

System implemented in 2012 to allow for "minimal human intervention" meant no competing bids were made by vendors in some instances, while some were bought at higher prices and with longer delivery times.

SINGAPORE: Eight agencies were cited by the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) for lapses in procurement procedures.

Among those highlighted in its report for the Financial Year 2013/14 released on Thursday (July 17) was the National Library Board (NLB)'s computerised system, implemented in 2012. The system, meant to help the selection and acquisition of books from its panel of vendors "with minimal human intervention", suffered from "logic flaws and inadequacies", according to the AGO.

Between December 2012 and October 2013, library materials worth S$3.76 million were purchased from the only vendor recommending the title through the computerised system, without giving other vendors a chance to enter a quote. "By doing so, there was no assurance of value for money," said the AGO.

Test checks the AGO conducted on 249 titles showed that had other vendors been allowed to enter a quote, the NLB would have saved S$6,000. "The AGO's concern is not so much the amount of savings for these 249 titles; rather, by design, the system does not enable the NLB to get the best price for such purchases. Over time, the amount of savings could be significant."

Also, because of the logic flaws in the system, 61 purchases were made from a vendor which quoted higher prices and a longer lead time than another vendor.

In response, the NLB said that by the end of FY2014/15, the system would be enhanced to allow vendors to view the publications recommended by other vendors, and enter bids within a 14-day window. The scoring methods for price and delivery time would also be revised, it said.

In the report, the Ministry of Education, Singapore Civil Defence Force, National Heritage Board, Health Sciences Authority, Central Provident Fund Board, National Council of Social Service and Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board were also cited for lapses in procurement procedures.

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