KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 8 – The Public Account Committee (PAC) has detailed contracts and vendors of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme’s (PICK) data integration and appointment system with an RM70 million ceiling.
Khairy Jamaluddin, who was then the Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation, told the PAC in a meeting on July 27 that there were 11 projects in total worth RM56.04 million for the data system of the government’s coronavirus inoculation programme.
According to the parliamentary committee’s report on Covid-19 vaccine procurement, this included RM10.4 million for MySejahtera developer KPISoft Malaysia Sdn Bhd, RM9.33 million for a call centre by Redberry Contact Center Sdn Bhd (wrongly named Redberry Call Centre in PAC’s report), and RM11.69 million for technical support services by PwC Consulting Associates.
The PAC highlighted Ministry of Finance (MOF) representatives’ concerns with the appointments of PwC Consulting Associates and Redberry via direct negotiation. The appointments of the two companies were also executed prior to applications for their appointments to the MOF.
KPISoft – MySejahtera
Contrary to initial claims that the government spent RM70 million on MySejahtera alone, the PAC report revealed that only RM10.4 million was allocated to KPISoft, a local company appointed by the National Cyber Security Agency (NACSA) last year to develop the government Covid-19 app.
Khairy said while the development of the app itself was free, the government, through NACSA, allocated RM10.4 million to KPISoft for a Google Map and Places application programming interface (API) item for Covid-19 vaccination registration.
MOSTI will send NACSA the RM10.4 million sum and NACSA is to use the money to pay KPISoft, depending on negotiations.
Khairy told the PAC on July 27 that “Google charges a lot for us to use that automatic filling of the API.” KPISoft, he said, has already paid the American tech giant.
“What the Google Maps and Places application does is when we put our address in, it will fill up the form automatically. There are pros and cons to this. Many filled the forms automatically but ended up with different addresses,” Khairy explained.
“For example, this person is at Taman Bahagia in Kluang, Johor, but when they see Taman Bahagia pop up (for autofill), they immediately click it and it’s actually Taman Bahagia in Sandakan, Sabah. So, we had some issues there lah, that was one of the reasons for the address problem.
“But this is carried out and paid by NACSA because MySejahtera is under NACSA, not the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) or Ministry of Health (MOH),” Khairy said, based on transcripts of the meeting published in PAC’s Covid-19 Vaccine Procurement report.
NACSA is an agency parked under the Prime Minister’s Department’s National Security Council, according to its website.
Redberry – Call Centre
Another RM9.33 million was allocated to establish a call centre. MOSTI awarded the contract to Redberry Contact Center after a beauty contest auction, Khairy said. Redberry Contact Center is owned by Redberry Group, a media company that also provides advertising services and owns the Malay Mail news site.
“The procurement process for the call centre — that was done through a beauty contest. We called for call centre companies, big ones in Malaysia like VADS, Scicom, TM, and Redberry. All made presentations to myself, the secretary-general, and deputy secretary-general with a quote and we decided that Redberry had the best proposition then.
“Yes, that is how the procurement was done. We had very little time to do a full-blown tender exercise, so we had decided that the beauty contest is better to be presented to MOSTI’s senior management,” Khairy said.
Members of the PAC had highlighted how poorly the call centre had performed, with many complaining that their calls were left unattended.
On this, MOSTI secretary-general Siti Hamisah Tapsir said that the call centre initially had 99 agents to manage all incoming calls. The PAC report stated that Redberry began providing services for the call centre before it received an approval letter from the MOF on June 4. MOSTI later issued a letter of acceptance (SST) on July 9.
“During the initial stage, before the SST was signed, the (call centre) service was based on 99 agents who will receive calls from 99 channels. MOSTI found the number to be inadequate as it was not enough for 99 agents to cater to 19 million calls. However, this could not be revised immediately as the SST has not been issued.
“Once the SST was issued, the number was increased to 300 agents and 300 channels to address the missed calls,” according to a PAC’s summary on the matter.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic period, both MOSTI and MOH are given direct decision-making powers for procurement that bypasses the MOF to reduce red tape. As part of a check-and-balance measure, MOF representatives will be present during MOH’s and MOSTI’s procurement meetings. An MOF representative is also made a member of each of MOH’s and MOSTI’s Procurement Boards.
In the case of Redberry, it was stated in the PAC report that MOF reps were “uncomfortable” with the company’s appointment, and the matter was subsequently referred to the MOF. This was why Redberry’s appointment required an ultimate decision by the Treasury.
Siti Hamisah noted that MOF’s approval on June 4 was backdated to MOSTI on March 5. “So the approval was way earlier,” she said.
PwC – Technical Support Services
PwC Consulting Associates received RM11.69 million from the RM70 million PICK fund for its technical support service. Khairy said PwC — an international professional services network and one of the Big Four accounting firms — was appointed directly by MOSTI.
MOF reps, once again, raised red flags on the appointment and therefore, MOF had to look further into the matter before an SST was issued.
Zamzuri Abdul Aziz, division secretary of MOF’s government procurement division, told PAC at a July 28 meeting that MOF reps were “not very comfortable” with PwC’s appointment because “we were not very clear as to what services they wanted to offer to MOSTI”.
“That’s why the engagement was quite lengthy between the two parties so that MOF was clear as to what services PwC wanted to offer before we brought it up for the Honourable Minister’s approval.”
Khairy told the PAC the previous day: “What PwC does for the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) on a weekly basis is to provide a quality assurance report so that we can always mitigate implementation risks and try to forecast some of the issues that may come up over the next few weeks.”
According to the-then MOSTI minister in a July 27 meeting with PAC, PwC conducted quality assurance, project management, and other duties related to management of the CITF project.