ON AUDIT DECISION NO. 2000-091
D E C I S I O N
Before this Commission is the appeal of Mr. Napoleon N. Ramos and Ms. Lucia Barbarona, members of the Committee on Bids and Awards, DECS Region XI, Davao City, from the disallowance corresponding to the payment of overpriced, obsolete and reconditioned mimeographing machines in the amount of P433,200.00 representing the price difference of the purchased items and the improved model with the same specifications at P11,400.00 (P95,000.00 - P83,600.00) each for 38 units.
Records disclose that a special audit was conducted on the disbursements for the procurement of equipment, school desks and instructional materials of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS), Regional Office No. XI, Davao City, covering the period from January 1992 to July 1993 by a team of auditors from the Special Audit Office (SAO) this Commission, pursuant to COA Assignment Orders Nos. 93-1745 dated 14 September 1993 and 93-1745A dated 23 February 1994. Consequently SAO Report No. 93-94 was transmitted to the Director, DECS, Regional Office No. XI, Davao City, under the letter of the Chairman dated October 25, 1996. The said report contained, among others, the finding of subject audit which states that:
On the basis of the aforesaid finding, the team issued Notice of Disallowance No. 94-012-101 (93) dated July 29, 1996 naming Mr. Napoleon N. Ramos and Ms. Lucia Barbarona liable for awarding the contract to an unauthorized supplier without indicating the complete specification of the items, thereby allowing the supplier to charge at an overprice for obsolete and reconditioned items.
In their letter-appeal to the Chairman, this Commission, dated August 12, 1997, Mr. Napoleon N. Ramos and Ms. Lucia Barbarona argued that objections to the procedure and regularity of the bidding should have been raised at the time the bidding was conducted and not afterwards. They asserted that they did not receive any advice from the Resident Auditor who was present during the bidding to witness the same which made them believe in good faith that the prices of the items subjected to bidding were reasonable and within the approved rules set by the Commission. Furthermore, they contended that as members of the Bidding Committee, they were even surprised when the Abstract of Quotation was not accompanied by any comment or remarks as to the observation of the COA Resident Auditor as what has been done previously in other transactions. They said that had there been any comment, remark and or recommendation as what has been done in the past, the Committee on Bids and Awards would have been properly guided.
After an objective appreciation of the grounds relied upon in the within appeal, this Commission finds the same to be devoid of merit. The role of the auditor in attending the opening of bids is clearly and explicitly provided in COA Circular No. 78-87 dated September 6, 1978, which states that the extent of auditorial involvement in procurement with regard to the opening of bids is limited to the following:
1. Maintenance of documentary integrity;
2. Physical security of the records of the bidding;
3. Identification and security of alterations of bids.
Parenthetically, the technical and financial evaluation of the bids rests with the members of the bidding committee who exercise discretionary functions and for that matter, it is presumed that so much is reposed on their integrity, ability, acumen and judgment (Villegas vs. Auditor General 18 SCRA 877). The determination, therefore, of the overpricing of the bidded items is the responsibility of the bidding committee and not of the representative of this Commission while attending the opening of the bids.
Anent the justification that since the Auditor did not raise any question during the bid, the presumption is that the bidding as well as the bid prices are all in order, this Commission finds the said presumption to be erroneous. It bears emphasizing that the role of the auditor while attending the opening of the bids is only to secure and maintain the integrity of bids. Suffice it to state that the validity of the quoted price cannot be presumed on the basis of the lack of objection or action over the same by the Auditor during the bid. It is only after post audit that the final validity and settlement of the account is made.
Moreover, the action taken by the Auditor as representative of this Commission was in conformity with Section 4.4 of COA Circular No. 89-299A dated September 8, 1989, which pertinently provides, thusly:
Pursuant to the aforementioned circular, Auditors merely witness the opening of the bids. Evaluation of the bids in order to get the most advantageous price for the government can be done without the presence of a representative of this Commission. It is incumbent upon the agency officials concerned to see to it that the items subject of bidding meet the specifications as required and to preserve the regularity of the bidding at the time the same was conducted. To do otherwise would be violative of the concept of fiscal responsibility which rests with the management as embodied in Section 2 of P. D. No. 1445, the Government Auditing Code. The pertinent bidding and awarding of the contract for the purchased equipment, is however, examined in post-audit by the Auditor after submission of the complete records of the transaction.
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, this Commission hereby affirms the disallowance issued by the Special Audit Team. Accordingly, the instant appeal is denied for lack of merit.
(Sgd.) CELSO D. GA—GAN
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