How Mrs Chu ensures fair play
C K Lau
IT'S a routine that Mrs Betty Chu Fu Kam-lui, Principal Executive Officer and Secretary of the Central Tender Board, takes most seriously.
Shortly before noon on most Fridays throughout the year, the veteran civil servant goes down from her office on the fourth floor of the East Wing of Central Government Offices to the tender room on the lower ground floor near the Lower Albert Road entrance.
One of her staff always carries a radio and when it sounds the beep that signals it is noon, Mrs Chu closes the room's two windows - one for standard-sized documents and the other for oversized ones - which are fitted with devices that only allow the deposition of documents, not their retrieval.
Punctuality is crucial - and that is why Mrs Chu cannot trust any clock or watch - to ensure late bids are kept out and only those which have been deposited in time are considered.
With a bunch of keys entrusted only to her, Mrs Chu opens one of the two sets of locks on the room's door, while an officer from the Director of Administration's office opens the other.
Both sets of keys are needed to gain access into the room to which tender documents containing sensitive commercial secrets are deposited by businesses which want to bid for Government contracts.
Sifting through the mountains of tender documents, Mrs Chu picks out those which pertain to tenders which have just closed and records their number in a log book inside the room.
The number of bids received for other tenders which have not yet closed are also counted and recorded. From time to time, staff of the Director of Audit visit to make sure the number of tender documents received tallies with the record.
Back in the office, Mrs Chu and her staff then check that all bids have come in with their tender forms filled in duplicate.
The original tender forms are sent with the bids to the relevant departments for assessment, while Mrs Chu keeps the duplicates.
In time, after the winning bids have been chosen by the tender board, Mrs Chu will dig out the relevant duplicate tender forms to check that the tender details have not been tampered with during the vetting process.
Both the Independent Commission Against Corruption and Audit Department regularly review the tender assessment procedures to ensure they are fair and strictly followed.