US firm complains over myki tender process

The tendering process conducted by the Victorian government to award a $1.7 billion contract for the myki public transport ticketing system overhaul has been heavily criticised by one of the losing bidders (as reported by the ABC). In a letter to Victorian Premier, Dan Andrews, they say the decision has major flaws and errors and give multiple reasons. While we are not party to the decision process the criticisms seem to have some basis.

Inside running

There are concerns that the successful bidder, Conduent, received favourable treatment from government officials. Cubic, a US-based firm that submitted a bid for the contract, has accused the government of giving Conduent (also US-based) an advantage during the myki tender process. Cubic raised concerns that government officials held discussions with Conduent after Cubic made its final submission, and did not give them the same opportunity. This is a serious breach of probity if they have disclosed aspects of Cubic bid to Conduent, which is implied.

Cost discrepancy

Cubic claims that its bid was $100 million cheaper than Conduent’s, yet it was not given a fair opportunity to improve its offer. The government’s failure to properly assess the supposedly lower-priced and technically superior offering raises questions about the fairness of the evaluation process.

Poor fact-checking

Despite Conduent’s claims of having implemented phone-based ticketing systems in Paris, Dubai and Montreal, it has yet to roll out such technology without a ticket. This raises doubts about the accuracy of Conduent’s representations and whether the government thoroughly evaluated Conduent’s experience and progress in similar projects. The Opal card system designed by Cubic, which is used in NSW does permit phone and card payments.

Failure to assess bids

Cubic alleges that the government’s procurement team did not conduct thorough reference checks or use overseas site visits to properly assess the bids. This suggests a lack of due diligence and raises concerns about the integrity of the evaluation process.

Lack of transparency

Cubic’s frustration with the government’s failure to answer questions during the debriefing process has added to the perception of a lack of transparency. The procurement team’s refusal to disclose the price used to evaluate Cubic’s proposed solution further undermines confidence in the process.

Defending questionable choice

The government’s defence of Conduent’s selection does not fully address the concerns raised by Cubic. Citing Conduent’s successful projects in other locations does not address the specific discrepancies and potential errors in the tendering process.

Considering the complaint there are calls from the Victorian opposition to suspend the myki tender contract with Conduent until the concerns regarding probity and transparency are adequately addressed.