15th March 2011
Is a stench of corruption arising from the Academy that trains IAS officers?
My father brought to my attention the following case (probably related to one of my close relatives, but the issue is generic and we should all be concerned). It appears that the place where IAS officers are taught the principles of integrity and good governance, is now perhaps itself involved in corruption.
These are the facts (through a formal RTI request, complete notings in the file have been obtained, so the position outlined below is based on direct knowledge):
1) LBSNAA invited tenders for a particular urgent work for its library.
2) The concerned officers, after technical evaluation, recommended that contract be awarded to the Lowest tenderer (L-1).
3) Notings in the file took U-turn and suddenly Director agreed to cancel the tender and invite fresh tender.
4) This time the tender introduced two conditions that specifically made L-1 ineligible:
a) Having known that L-1 has done similar work of automation of Library using RFID (Radio Frequency ID) in three major Libraries of India, the revised tender introduced a condition that only those who have done such work in five or more libraries are now eligible.
b) As a double precaution one more clause was added that only specified Software of a paticular company should be used.
This made it effectively a single tender suiting ONLY the favoured party. L-1 was disqualified despite a demonstrated, tremendous capability (if it is the person I think it was, then that person is an IIT alumni – one of the few who didn't migrate outside India in order to serve the country), and cheaper price. [Btw, from this person, I have heard innumerable stories of corruption in government offices]
5) LBSNAA thereafter closed the matter by responding that the matter "has approval of the Competent Authority and no further correspondence can be obtained".
I do hope there was a genuine reason for forcing the Indian taxpayer to pay a HIGHER price for work that could have been successfully completed at a cheaper price. Without such genuine reason this behaviour is very suspicious.
Indeed, if there was a genuine reason to look for a particular software or for someone who had already done RFID work in five libraries, that should have been reflected in the original tender. And why was a particular software sought? We should specify outcomes, not the means.
Therefore the cancellation of tender to specifically exclude the lowest party is VERY FISHY!!!
Independent investigation needed
I would like to request the Director of the Academy to IMMEDIATELY STOP WORK ON THIS PROJECT AND INVESTIGATE THROUGH AN INDEPENDENT PARTY (since he was directly involved in cancelling the first tender).
Once he is satisfied about the facts of the case, he should issue a detailed clarification on this blog so I can assure the public of India (and the world) that THE IAS ACADEMY HAS NOT ITSELF BECOME A DEN OF CORRUPTION!
Till such clarification is received, the reputation of the Academy is no longer clean, at least in my eyes.
I suggest that it is NOT GOING TO BE POSSIBLE TO TEACH IAS OFFICERS ABOUT INTEGRITY IF THE ACADEMY'S REPUTATION IS SO DAMAGED.
We were taught (at the Academy) in our days that not only must we be clean but we must APPEAR to be clean. This case DOES NOT give the appearance of integrity.
Indeed, why not have this issue investigated by Officer Trainees, and let their report be published? Let them use this as a case study on corruption/ allegations about corruption.