Controversy: MU tampered with tender criteria to benefit Company Merit Trac

Even though Merit Trac couldn't meet the required criteria, they were handed the contract of online assessment over Tata Consultancy Services


What's the story?

In a shocking revelation, it has come to light that Mumbai University had resorted to altering the criteria for selection of the contractor to implement it's On Screen Marking (OSM) by reducing the minimum turnover and reduction of Minimum Technical Score criteria for the selection process of the contract in its Tender process.

Tender requirements changed from INR 100 Cr to INR 30 Cr

In the original tender documents, the minimum requirements for qualification in the tender process was pegged at INR 100 crores which was reduced to INR 30 crores and the requirements of Minimum Technical Score for consideration in qualifying for the tender was scoring 70 points, which was modified to 60 points to probably facilitate the tender in favour of the chosen contractor. The alteration in the pre-qualification criteria proved beneficial to the bagging of the OSM contract to Merit Trac.

The University had issued the tender for the first time on February 28, 2017, for implementing the OSM system of paper correction for the March 2017 Examinations being conducted by the University to which it didn't receive any response. After that, the University altered its pre-qualification criteria by reducing the Minimum Turn Over required from INR 100 crores to INR 30 crores and the Technical Score requirements from Minimum 70 points to 60 points.

RTI Activist Anil Galgali had sought information from Mumbai University about the online paper evaluation and other related information. From the documents provided by the Mumbai University's Central Evaluation Center, it can be ascertained that in order to facilitate and benefit a specific company the tender was issued four times. 

TCS scored better than Merit Trac yet the tender was handed to the latter 

The tender process was extended up to March 21, 2017, during which two companies participated in the process. Since the process required a third application, a second extension was given up to March 27, 2017, which also resulted in non-application by a third party. Thereafter a Tender selection committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr Vijay Joshi. On the assessment of the tenderers, it was found that Tata Consultancy services had scored 95 points, whereas Merit Trac had scored 45 points. Also, the Merit Trac was not even present at the Technical Tender selection meeting, also no demonstration of its technology was given before the Tender selection committee.

Merit Trac handed the contract without any presentation before the Management Council 

Merit Trac, a company which did not appear before the Tender selection committee, came before the University's Management Council on April 28, 2017, along with the IT department's coordinator Dr Suresh Ukrande and provided detailed information. In a surprising act, the Purchase Committee had given the contract to Merit Trac just a day earlier on April 27, 2017, even before appearing and presentation before the Management Council. In the Management Council, the Govt representative's Siddarth Kharat, Dr Rohidas Kale and Dr Subhash Mahajan had voiced its opinion against the process, but the Vice Chancellor taking personal responsibility took the decision in favour of Merit Trac on some unknown pressure. This enquiry is conducted will reveal the hidden connections between Mumbai and Andhra Pradesh, which inconvenienced lakhs of Students and played havoc in their careers, expressed Galgali.

Technical Pre-qualification criteria tampered with

Tata Consultancy Services were ignored only on the criteria of higher cost, though they scored the highest on the technical score and technology presentation. The Tata's had quoted INR 49.90 in comparison to Merit Trac's quotation of INR 23.90. Merit Trac could not even meet the altered criteria of Technical Score of 60 points, whereas their score was 45 points. The issues which need specific attention are that Merit Trac was handed over the confirmation letter on the very next day of its selection on April 27, 2017, even ahead of its presentation before the Management Council and also non-presentation before the Tender selection committee. Merit Trac has issued the work order on May 2, 2017, and the contract was signed on August 8, 2017.

Technical Committee exonerated

The Technical Committee which awarded the contract to Merit Trac and responsible for the mess, comprising of Dr Vijay Joshi, Dr Suresh Ukrande and Rajendra Dhanole was given exoneration by the Vice Chancellor. In the five-member committee, the above mentioned three members decided in favour of Merit Trac unanimously and hence, these activities demand an inquiry. 

Anil Galgali in a letter addressed to Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, who is also the Chancellor of Mumbai University has demanded a complete inquiry into the tender process for selection of the OSM contractor, he also demanded actions against the Technical Committee. He further stressed that, by ignoring the technical competence, and the reason of only with a view of saving money of the University, Merit Trac was awarded the contract is not convincing, there seems to be some other active connection between Mumbai and Andhra Pradesh which facilitated the award of contract to Merit Trac cannot be ruled out stated Galgali. If a CID inquiry is recommended by the Governor, the real picture might come to light.