Cablegate: Bahraini Tender Board Brings Transparency To

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

Evidence of Improved Transparency

1. (U) The Ambassador paid an introductory call on Minister
of State and Chairman of the Tenders Board Abdul Hussein Ali
Mirza on September 6, discussed the upcoming Bahrain Free
Trade Agreement (FTA), and reviewed the recently implemented
tender process. The Ambassador noted that the FTA would
increase U.S. business interest in GOB tenders and that a
transparent and user-friendly tender process was particularly
important to American companies. Mirza called the Board,s
efforts to streamline the process and ensure transparency a
significant success, and pointed to improved ratings from
Standard and Poor,s and on the Financial Times transparency
index as unbiased evidence corroborating his claim. Mirza
commented that Bahraini business people are uncertain as to
how they can benefit from the FTA. He urged the Ambassador
to take a leading role in helping to define those benefits.

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Tender Board Established in Response to Corruption Concerns
--------------------------------------------- --------------

2. (U) Mirza said that managing the Tender Board takes up
most of his time. The Board was established in January 2003
in response to public calls for greater transparency and
credibility in government procurement. The law establishing
the Tender Board drew on best practices from regional
governments as well as the United States and the UN. All
tenders over BD 10,000 are now managed by the Tender Board
(in consultation with the concerned ministry), while those
under BD 10,000 continue to be managed by ministries
themselves. Since its inception in 2003 the Tenders Board
has processed and awarded approximately 1,300 tenders worth
an estimated $1.3 billion.


3. (U) According to Mirza, the Board,s procedures have been
transparent from the outset. All tenders are unsealed in an
open meeting, bids are recorded and stamped to ensure they
cannot be tampered with, and posted on the Board,s website.
The Board uses a "two envelope" policy for tenders that
require a technical component. This involves opening the
technical bid first to ensure that all bidders meet the
specifications and, once confirmed, opening the financial bid
to ensure the contract goes to the least expensive qualified

4. (U) To ensure that the process is cost effective as well
as fair and transparent, Mirza has begun to collect data to
determine if amounts budgeted during the previous year by
ministries implementing a project are the same as or less
than actual costs. He estimates the government has saved BD
30 million since January 2003. The Tender Board is now also
tracking the time period between a Request for Proposal and
tender award to measure the efficiency of the Board and the
concerned ministries.

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