Yesterday, Kelly Cheng, a designer, posted a Facebook post of a tender document on Gebiz which contained terms and conditions which seem somewhat unbelievable to industry professionals.
She wrote, "Multiple Demands for Unlimited Changes for Design Services on Gebiz.
As a designer, I Protest, Do you? Please share this post if you are against Unlimited Changes - Be the Change you want to see in the world."
Gebiz is a online platform where statutory boards and government agencies in Singapore publish their tenders to registered contractors so to have the process documented, ensuring that the whole process stay fair and aboard.
Many could not believe the terms have been issued by a government entity and started sharing the post to express their disbelief or disgust on the conditions offered to the bidders.
What unlimited changes in the tender document would mean is that the entity that awards the contract is able to ask for an unlimited number of revisions on the design work to their liking whether the changes are reasonable or not without any additional cost to the awarding entity.
This would mean, the awarded bidder will have to bear all cost of design work regardless of whether the changes were made due to poor workmanship of artwork or simply because the people making decisions have bad taste in design.
One of Kelly's friend on Facebook, Tay Cheng Soon wrote, "These are retrograde procurement procedures emanating from a mindset based on street market practices inconsistent with an economy heading towards value creation. In such an economy intellectual and creative effort must be valued and respected if such effort is to grow. Those who continue street market practices should be re-educated. They have to see that their squeezing methods are counterproductive. In fact they are against new national interests!"
Another friend, Cheah Wei Chun wrote, "how about getting the client to sign a document that promises they will have GOOD TASTE and a high appreciation and knowledge of COMMUNICATION DESIGN?"
One of Cheng's friends even wrote to Ministry of Fiance (MOF) asking for their comments on the terms of contract for the bidder. MOF replied to the friend in an email, "We agree that it is unfair to expect the suppliers to agree to unlimited changes. We would appreciate it if you could share with us the specific tender/quotation numbers and we will look into this matter." and said that it is currently looking into the issue.
So which entity offered such a ridiculous bid in Gebiz?
According a search on the GeBiz system, the tendering entity is Whitley Secondary School.
The school had published the tender to request for a contractor to take up the designing and printing of its publications. Namely, its school magazine for 2016, a student handbook for all school rules and diary and the school's newsletters that capture the key events in Term 1, 2 and 3.
The tender was published on Gebiz on 1 February and closed on 11 February. The status of the tender states that it is pending award.
However, this is not the first time the school has issued such a tender.
In an archive of the school's tender in 2014 (thanks to the internet), it is noted that the school had used the same conditions of unlimited changes for the design and printing of the school's magazine. The tender was awarded at $8,690 for 1,100 copies of the magazine. Given that this tender includes the printing of the notebooks and newsletter, this amount should surely raise beyond the previous awarded amount.
Now, we have to wait for MOF's review of Whitley Secondary School's tender to see if it had violated any standards of issuing government tenders.
For those interested, the below is the full tender document minus contact details.