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Fair, transparent process adopted in MSIP bid: UIDAI on tech firms' charges

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) had floated a tender for contracting a managed services infrastructure provider

UIDAI
Tech majors IBM, Wipro and Dell had allegedly flagged certain concerns around the evaluation process.

The Aadhaar-issuing body UIDAI has said its tender for selecting managed services infrastructure provider (MSIP) has been evaluated, ensuring complete "transparency, fairness and equity" in accordance with stipulated norms.

Tech majors IBM, Wipro and Dell had allegedly flagged certain concerns around the evaluation process.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) had floated a tender for contracting a managed services infrastructure provider.

Following a technical evaluation of the bids, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) was given a score of 98 on 100, higher than those awarded to IBM, TCS and Wipro, a source said. According to another source, a Letter of Intent has been issued to HPE for the project.

One of the sources said Wipro, IBM and Dell had reached out to the UIDAI a few months back allegedly raising concerns around the evaluation process.

When contacted, Wipro said it does not have any comments on the issue. Dell declined to comment, while IBM did not respond to emailed queries.

The UIDAI, in its response to a PTI query, strongly refuted the charges, asserting that the evaluation in the said 'MSIP' Request for Proposal has been done ensuring transparency, fairness and equity in accordance to the CVC guidelines and other applicable rules.

"The UIDAI was advised by the CVC 'to take appropriate decision' at its end. Also, CVC declined to interfere in RFP's decision making process as a matter of policy," the UIDAI said.

In a letter dated June 25, Wipro had said it was disappointed with the "quality and the objectivity of the evaluation process" and alleged that the HPE bid had many gaps and shortcomings.

It alleged that bidders participated in the tender directly as well as their products were part of other bids, which is not in compliance with CVC rules, and therefore this has rendered the process uncompetitive for those who have strictly followed the RFP requirements.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is a system integration partner for HPE. TCS also did not comment on the matter.

Dell, in its letter, had highlighted alleged non-compliance of the product positioned by HPE and requested for a meeting on the matter.

In a letter dated July 21, 2020, IBM had raised questions about the evaluation of the bidding process for awarding managed services infrastructure provider (MSIP) contract. Subsequently, a legal firm representing UIDAI had responded to IBM saying the allegations levelled were "baseless and completely incorrect" and that it is not obligated to honour any of the "unreasonable and arbitrary demands" made by the company.

A HPE spokesperson said the company "respects the decision taken by the UIDAI after extensive RFP evaluation process and we will work towards the successful execution of this critical project of national importance".

The UIDAI - in its written response - has said it had published the response to all bidders as part of Corrigendum in third week of February 2020, followed by several meetings with bidders and with their OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) partners to address their concerns and queries.

Another corrigendum based on these discussions was issued in the last week of February.

"From then till the submission of technical bids, UIDAI didn't receive any further query on CVC guideline from any bidder and no further guidelines were issued by UIDAI in this regard to HPE or to other bidders. All the bidders have responded to the RFP in accordance to the guidelines set out in UIDAI's RFP," it said.

The UIDAI said a third-party evaluation was neither envisaged nor required for the RFP, and that there is no legal provision or tradition of third party evaluation in any of the RFP.

"All bids were assessed and evaluated as per the defined criteria in the RFP. Wherever any clarity was required, the Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) had sought clarifications from the bidders in order to evaluate and complete the assessment thoroughly and fairly," the UIDAI added.

The UIDAI outlined the comprehensive process that was involved in technical evaluation, and said the compliance to product was verified against the technical specification as specified in UIDAI RFP, and the data sheet of the quoted product was also verified to substantiate the compliance of the requirement.

"UIDAI evaluated the product as per its relevancy to UIDAI's RFP and the technical specifications clearly specified in the UIDAI's RFP and was found meeting all the requirements, so approved," the UIDAI added.