13 August 2020 - NW1635
van der Merwe, Ms LL to ask the Minister of Home Affairs
(a) What are the reasons that his department considered and/or granted two-year and one-year extensions to a certain company (name furnished), (b) why did it take two years just to release the Request For Information and (c) what are the processes that will now unfold pertaining to the four companies who have been identified as being able to provide the services in question?
a) In December 2018, DHA was required to extend the contract with VFS for a period of 24 months, effective 1 January 2019 – 31 December 2020. The extension was necessitated at the time to ensure continuity of the Departments business operations globally. On the instruction of the Department, the service provider holds a presence in 18 territories globally with frontline services being offered through 45 Visa Application Centres (VAC’s)– all of which are situated within strategic international nodes critical to the conduct of foreign-based travel, investment and business into the RSA. An unstructured change at the time would potentially have placed operational efficiencies at risk. Considering the complexity of such a global frontline services operating model, the Department had to ensure service continuity by extending the contract for the period referred. This extension also provided opportunity for the department to build an independent capability to render equivalent services through the development of an electronic eVisa platform, which was demonstrated to The President in October 2019. This is under a phased, controlled release which has been delayed in 2020 with the advent of COVID-19 resulting in a global shutdown of international travel and service-based operations.
b) The Department started the procurement process in January 2018 when its Bid Adjudication Committee (BAC) approved the open tender process. The Bid Specification Committee (BSC) undertook the drafting of technical specifications. At that stage, a parallel process was initiated to request a legal opinion whether the Department should proceed with an open tender process or defer to a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) process. A legal opinion was received on 26 April 2018 through the Office of the State Attorney, wherein it was recommended that the Department should proceed with a PPP process. Further consultations took place with the Senior Council, Finance, Supply Chain Management and National Treasury to ensure that the process was legally compliant. In October 2018, National Treasury confirmed that the Department should follow the PPP process through a Request for Information ("RFI") to test the market and the results thereof should be shared with the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer. The Department published an RFI in December 2019. Seven responses were received by 17 January 2020 with four companies assessed as compliant. This information was submitted to National Treasury on 08 April 2020.
c) The Public Private Partnership (PPP) was registered with National Treasury under GTAC. A letter of PPP confirmation was received from National Treasury on 16 January 2020. The PPP engagement with GTAC was delayed with the onset of COVID-19 and lockdown instituted since 26 March 2020. However, following the easing of lockdown conditions, the engagement with GTAC on the PPP started in June 2020 and is continuing in order to implement the PPP process.