The Office of the Basic Education Commission (Obec) says it is unable to comply with an Education Ministry directive to scrap a deal to purchase more than 400,000 computer tablets.
Obec secretary-general Apichart Jeerawuth said yesterday that any attempt by his office to scrap the deal with Supreme Distribution Co would flout Prime Minister's Office regulations governing electronic auctions.
Obec awarded the firm a contract to supply 426,683 tablet computers for students and teachers in the central and southern provinces. The deal was part of an e-auction held by Obec in May to acquire 1.63 million tablets for students in the second phase of the government's one tablet PC per child project.
However, on Sept 9, Education Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng ordered Obec to cancel the bidding results for zone 3 after the Office of the Auditor-General raised suspicions of bid-rigging. This prompted the company to lodge an appeal with the Comptroller-General's Department (CGD).
Mr Apichart said the Comptroller-General ruled recently that Obec could not nullify bidding results as doing so would violate PM's Office regulations issued in 2006 to regulate state procurement projects through e-auctions.
The regulations require state agencies wanting to scrap e-auction bidding results to do so within three days of the auction result.
State agencies are also required to inform all bidders and the CGD's committee on electronic procurement of their decision and publish this information on their websites.
"It has been three months since the bidding result was announced. Obec will forward the CGD's ruling to the education minister so he can discuss it with the tablet committee," Mr Apichart said.
The CGD pointed out in its ruling that any decision to revoke the bidding result must follow the law and regulations. Obec must also have solid evidence to show the bidder failed to follow e-auction rules or had technical problems which would undermine the government's interests, he said.