Complaints Procedure

Background

Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) is a regulatory body in the public procurement and disposal sector in Uganda under PPDA Act No. 1 of 2003. Briefly, our mandate as per Sections 6 and 7 of the Act, include advising government on all public procurement issues, ensuring compliance of the law, conducting training and capacity building and conducting audits, investigations and inspections.

The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act, 2003, sections 89 and 90, provide for Administrative Review, while Section 8 (e) mandates the Authority to act upon complaints by Procuring and Disposing Entities (PDEs), providers and any other entity or person, in respect of any party to a procurement and disposal activity, and take the necessary action.

Procedure

A Bidder, or any other interested person, may seek administrative review, of a procurement or disposal process, for any omission or breach, by a PDE, of the PPDA Act, the Regulations, or Guidelines, made under the Act or of the provisions of bidding documents, including best practices. Specifically, Sections 8 (c) mandates the PPDA to commission or undertake investigations, institute procurement or disposal contract and performance audits or investigate complaints by providers.

Please read carefully, the procedures, which are outlined hereunder, in form of frequently asked questions and answers.

Question 1: What is the first step a dissatisfied Bidder, or member of the public, should take to get his/her complaint resolved?

Answer: A bidder, upon payment of an administrative review fee to the PDE (a % of the bid value as stipulated in Guideline No. 6 of 2003, on administrative review, issued by PPDA), should, in writing, be addressed to the Accounting Officer of the PDE, within 15 working days from the date the he/she first became aware of the circumstances leading to the complaint. There is a period allowed for raising complaints, when the Notice of intention to award a contract has been issued to all the bidders, who participated in the bidding process [S76 (2) (a) and Reg.224]. This is before a contract has been signed.

Question 2: Should the Complaint be verbal or written, and what should actually be included?

Answer: All complaints to the PDE must be in writing. It must clearly state the grounds for the complaint, should be readable, clear and to the point, quoting sections of the law contravened, where possible. It must be signed by the complainant. Every complaint should be addressed as follows:

The Accounting Officer
Name of the Entity….
Postal Address…..

The complainant should be able to indicate the grounds for the complaint, the anticipated remedy. The letter should be signed by an authorised person

Question 3: How about a bidder who complains frivolously to disorganize others (the Best Evaluated Bidder) unnecessarily?

Answer: As seen above, a bidder submits a request for administrative review only after payment of an administrative review fee to the PDE. This implies for someone to lodge a complaint he/she must have enough evidence to support his/her case, otherwise the fee paid for the review, will have been wasted if the case is frivolous and holds no water.

Question 4: What happens when the Accounting Officer receives the complaint?

Answer: On receiving a complaint, the Accounting Officer will investigate it and make a decision within 15 working days, indicating the corrective measures to be taken, if any, including the suspension of the proceedings, where he/she deems necessary, and giving reasons for his/her decision [S90 (2) and (3)]. If the complaint is upheld, the bidder’s administrative fee is refunded.

Question 5: What happens where a Bidder is dissatisfied with the decision of the Accounting Officer or the Accounting Officer does not make a decision in the stipulated time?

Answer: If a bidder is dissatisfied with the decision of the Accounting Officer or the Accounting Officer does not make a decision in the stipulated time, the bidder may appeal to the Authority. This should be done within 10 (ten) working days from the date of communication of the decision of the Accounting Officer, or expiry of the stipulated time. The bidder is not required to pay an additional administrative review fee at this level. The appeal can either be mailed or hand delivered. If a fax is sent, an original must also be delivered, as action can only be done on the original. The onus is on the complainant to ensure actual delivery of the letter. It should be addressed to:

The Executive Director
Public Procurement & Disposal of Public Assets Authority
P.0 B0x 3925, Kampala
Tel: 256 41 311 100, 311 113/26, Fax 256-41-344 858
5 th Floor, Nakasero Towers.

Email: ed@ppda.go.ug   OR csabiiti@ppda.go.ug
Question 6: What happens when the Authority receives an appeal from a bidder?

Answer: The Authority will promptly give notice of the appeal, to the accounting officer of the respective PDE, suspending any further action, on the procurement or disposal process, by the PDE until the Authority has settled the matter. The Authority will also notify all the interested bidders of the complaint. The complaint is then immediately analyzed and investigated. During the investigation, to uphold the principle of natural justice, the Authority normally requests both parties to attend any meeting where such parties may need to clarify on some issues. The Authority must issue its decision within 21 (twenty one) working days [S91]

Question 7 : Will the Authority get back to the stakeholder who lodged the complaint?

Answer: Yes Of course. When investigations are concluded, the provider will be reached by post or fax, in less than 48 hours.

Question 8: What sort of decision can be made, by the Authority, on a received complaint?

Answer: The Authority may dismiss the complaint, if the complaint is deemed not to hold any water, or PPDA may investigate the complaint fully, if it is felt that there is overwhelming evidence. If the complaint is not dismissed, the Authority can prohibit a PDE from taking any further action or annul, in whole or part, any unlawful act or decision already made by the PDE.

Question 9: Is the Administrative Review fee reimbursable?

Answer: Yes. The Administrative Review fee is refundable if the complaint is upheld, following completion of the Administrative Review process.

Question 10:Can an aggrieved party sue the PDE in courts of law for such a breach of procedure?

Answer: Yes, this can happen. However, the Authority advises the public that this method of conflict resolution should be used only after dialogue and peaceful negotiations have been exhausted. Moreover, parties are further advised to go for conciliation and/or arbitration before one can opt for the protracted and costly litigation. Otherwise, it is expected that if a bidder follows the established administrative review procedure, his/her case will be resolved very fast, cheaply and the matter will remain private.

Question 11: What happens if the complainant is not satisfied with the decision reached by PPDA?

Answer: The most appropriate way to handle the complaint, after this far, is for the provider to lodge his complaint to the Inspector General of Government (IGG) for further investigation. Actually, the IGG will not accept any complaint that has not gone through the above process unless it is one of outright corruption. All the latter cases go straight to the IGG. PPDA has an arrangement with the IGG on this procedure. Failure to be satisfied with the IGG’s decision, the bidder may go either for arbitration or to the courts of law.

Question 12 : What happens when a member of the public or any other person (whistle blower) is concerned about anything going wrong, but was never involved in the Procurement or Disposal Process, and wants to report it to PPDA?

Answer: A person who has anything to report on, about any omissions or commissions of the public procurement or disposal process by a PDE, should contact the Executive Director, PPDA at any time, during working hours. He/she must be willing to identify him/herself and offer more information and evidence of the wrongdoing in the respective PDE. His identity would, however, remain confidential to the public.

Should you wish to get more clarification on any of the above, the other provisions of the Act, please do not hesitate to contact us.