BELIZE CITY, Mon. Aug. 30, 2021– Last Friday, SMART issued a press release in response to a leaked internal memo from the office of BTL CEO, Ivan Tesecum, which referenced the bidding process which led to a GOB decision to award a $3.37 million contract to SMART to provide GOB with Microsoft Office software licenses. The SMART statement claimed, in reference to the BTL memo, that “certain inaccurate statements were made regarding the tender process.”
The interoffice memo penned by BTL CEO, Ivan Tesecum, said that “the goal post was moved and set up for Digi to not win the renewal” and suggested that SMART was awarded the contract due to preferential treatment by the Government of Belize. The memo even asserted that BTL ultimately offered the best deal.
However, the release from SMART, in addressing the statements made in the BTL memo, denies the claim that they were brought in as a late addition to the bidding process. The release says all three bidders — BTL, SMART, and the Caribbean-based Inova Solutions— received an outline of the requirements for the provision of Microsoft Office licenses on June 15, 2021, and it claims that those requirements were reviewed in a meeting on the same day.
According to the SMART press release, two bidding options were put on the table: an option to present a quoted price for three years and another to present a price for 1 year of licenses.
The release from SMART accurately says that they offered the lowest 1-year bid of $3,373,154.73. BTL’s quoted price for the 1-year MS renewal licenses was $3,540,174.00, and Inova Solution’s bid was $3,434,996.46.
The comparative table released by SMART shows the three-year quoted prices from both Inova ($11.2 million) and BTL ($10.6 million). SMART, however, did not make an offer for a three-year period.
The release says that the 1-year price from SMART was lower than Digi’s one-year offer by $148,000 and that, if the value-added services included by Digi were factored into the calculations, the SMART bid would still be lower by $68,000. (It must be noted, however, that ultimately the cost to GOB for the switchover to SMART still exceeds what the government would have otherwise paid if it had retained BTL as its software provider, since it cancelled a three-month extension of BTL’s provision of the licenses, although a month of paid-for provision of such licenses by BTL remained — which reportedly resulted in an additional outlay by GOB of $200,000.)
Additionally, the SMART release claims that Digi did not include one category of licenses in their quote — the Azure Active Directory Premium. The release says, “Both Smart and Inova raised no objection to Digi being granted the opportunity to include the Azure licenses, which it did but all other previous prices already submitted remained unchanged.”
The release says that ultimately SMART is simply looking for an equal share of GOB business.
“Smart seeks a level playing field and an equal opportunity to fairly compete for GOB business, something that is prescribed in the Telecoms Act and that has been grossly absent in the past when it comes to GOB business,” the release states.
Of note, the transfer of the Microsoft licenses contract from BTL to SMART occurred on the heels of a switchover from BTL to SMART that has occurred within a number of government ministries.