• DoF uncovers P50-M ‘white elephant’ IT deal

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    THE Department of Finance (DoF) has uncovered a P50-million “white elephant” information technology (IT) project supposedly meant to support the Treasury’s operations in Manila from a remote location in the Visayas.

    In a statement on Wednesday, the DoF said the project called for a state-of-the-art “Disaster Recovery” (DR) Site for the supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of various information and communications technology equipment, including the supply of labor, services and materials in support of the Bureau of Treasury in Manila from the unidentified remote city.

    But National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon said the DR Site’s remote location was “not ideal for the Treasury’s critical systems” and telecommunications facilities such as high-speed fiber cables have not yet been set up by either PLDT or Globe Telecom in the area, defeating the purpose.

    The DoF said the IT project was “left behind” by the past administration with Treasury officials claiming they only learned of the project when the contractor Multi-Fold Links Inc. informed them it was ready to turn over the DR Site to the government.

    It said the project was started in August last year, when de Leon was not yet the National Treasurer and the Duterte administration was still less than two months in office.

    The agency said the project’s turnover date was originally set on February 12, but was moved to July 15 this year.

    De Leon said no funds had been allocated for the maintenance and operation of the DR Site under the 2017 budget.

    “We also have no budget under the 2017 GAA (General Appropriations Act) to maintain and operate the DR as our current maintenance costs for the Ayuntamiento’s unified communications system is only about P28 million annually,” she said.

    The Treasury’s main office is located at the revived Ayuntamiento de Manila building in Intramuros, Manila.

    De Leon said the Treasury also found out that the DR was too costly to operate and maintain because it needs to run at full capacity 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and requires security personnel to guard the property.
    She also pointed out that the Treasury has no technical capability to run the DR’s data center.

    Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd told Treasury officials: “I want you to get to the bottom of this and find out who was behind this project.”

    In the meantime, he said, the bureau should find ways to put the project to good use and to hire a private service provider to ensure that the DR would run efficiently.

    The DR Site consists of a structure that houses precision air-conditioning units, a cold aisle containment system, uninterruptible power supply, an FM200 fire suppression system, access raised floor, tempered glass enclosures, acoustic ceilings, wall claddings, generator sets, variable refrigerant flow indoor units, a CCTV system, a door access system that includes scanners, and temperature, humidity and water leak detection systems.

    De Leon said the vendor would operate and maintain the equipment until full turnover to the Treasury.

    The contract amount for the DR Site is P49,804,900. According to the Treasury, 80 percent of the amount had been disbursed to Multi-Fold Links.

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