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MOF: Unfair to expect the suppliers to agree to unlimited changes

Ministry of Finance (MOF) agrees that it is unfair to expect the suppliers to agree to unlimited changes in creative services.

The ministry had issued a statement through its Facebook page on Wednesday evening in response to the recent saga about the “unlimited changes” tender published in GeBiz.

On 15 February, 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.”

A friend of Cheng who was concerned about the matter, wrote to Ministry of Fiance (MOF) asking for their comments on the terms of contract for the bidder. MOF replied the friend by saying, “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.

In its statement on Wednesday, MOF shared that it has verified that there indeed was such a requirement contained in the posted documents, sourced to a local school. The school in question is Whitley Secondary School as identified from GeBiz. (read more)

Ministry of Education is said to have agreed that the number of iterations should be reasonable and cannot be unlimited. The specification of "unlimited changes" has been removed from the school’s Invitation-to-Quote (ITQ).

MOF also stated that it will issue a circular to remind all government agencies of standing procurement principles, which includes ensuring that all procurement specifications are reasonable and fair.

The post went on to state that the DesignSingapore Council, which is tasked to develop the local design sector, is also working with MOF to advise government agencies on the guideline of best practices for government procurement of design services.

In regards to the removal of specifications, TOC visited the GeBiz system on Thursday morning and noticed that the ITQ has the same tender specifications as before. TOC has written to MOF to seek clarification on what did the ministry mean by the specifications being removed from the ITQ.

It is also to be noted that the ITQ has already closed by the time MOF is made aware of the issue.

Comments on MOF's statement about tender specifications

Andrew Pang, a commenter on the MOF Facebook page wrote a heartfelt comment to beseech MOF to also look into the practice of asking for free pitch for creative work,

"Dear MOF, thank you for the long overdue review of your procurement procedures.

I'll also like to propose to MOF to look into the practice of requesting for free pitch from creative agencies.

For a city that is a newly awarded Unesco Creative city of Design, it is also only right that the government leads by example by not seeking for free pitch.

Creative professionals too, have families to go home to and mouths to feed... Why should agencies be asked to do creative proposals for free? Are the agency's portfolio not good enough to ascertain their quality of work? Pitching of idea take loads of time and effort, but most of all, they are Intellectual Property.

Would anyone ask a restaurant to prepare some sample dishes for them before actually placing their orders? Or will a lawyer be asked to represent for free for 1 court session before the accused signs him on? If it is not practised in the other professions, then why the creative industry?"

Another commenter, Cedric Lim gave a harsh lengthy reply to MOF's statement.

The truth? The Design Singapore Council does nothing at all. All these board meetings, BOIs doesn't do justice all these umpteen years the design agencies or production houses has to put up with. Well, the total number of amendments per deliverable is 5.

Government agencies? Nope, the top people have KPI to keep up, so cheap is the word. The reasonable of using an agency that is better but twice the amount? It's called "cannot justify", or simply put, "too much trouble". Rather go through the motion like how it has not changed this many years since Gebiz. Ask these top management who're made these decisions? Are they culpable? Review the procedures? Hey, do more.

Let me tell ya what to do. Launch this full board, and a potential pool of people you thought was productive might even be invited by CPIB for coffee. Talent/ model usage wise, Government agencies are the ones asking for perpetual copyright/ usage.

UNLIMITED COPYRIGHT FOR IMAGES. Shame on your guys for campaigning for IP and whatsoever you campaign for copyright, IPOS with your eyes shut wide. I don't even understand how I should appreciate MOF for standing up after so MANY years. Thumbs up? Really??? Look through the tender again, it starts with the tender brief written without any tactfulness. "Not looking for printing company but creative design agencies"??? Unlimited Changes the government agencies demanded. Common sense, because common sense says is for anyone who has a brain that you don't go to a chicken rice stall, ask for a plate of it, and reject until you see the perfect plate of chicken rice put together.

Oh yes, government agencies are made up of scholars for crying out loud. Take for example when it comes to choosing a design agency for your campaign... "You don't have a relevant portfolio, and therefore I cannot task you the job", and all of a sudden, we realise that the government agencies are asking for a EXACT replica of portfolio we have done. APPLE FOR APPLE.

Gordon Ramsay cooks Beef Ribeye when his other commercial depicts him making salad! Do you know why? Because it's the same job! It's an inconvenient truth. Print my comments, burn it into talisman and drink it, and hopefully with some supernatural power, government agencies will understand. If you leave it to some human species to understand, they just won't. Why would you bother issuing a circular? Circular goes in circles and it won't reach the people you want to reach.

Well, congrats to me actually, my only respect to government agencies is that through my lengthy post, I have not used a single vulgarity. Take it as my only form of respect. I suppose if you dare delete my post, you guys have secondary protocol.