Portal Interview.ba wrote about this controversial public procurement worth around 1.1 million KM in early April 2023.
Based on the appeal filed by the company Glock Sigurnost d.o.o Sarajevo, the Appeals Office has annulled the tender documentation and procurement notice of the Municipality of Novo Sarajevo for the Procurement and Installation of a Video Surveillance System for public facilities and areas (935-1-l-313-3-292t22) dated December 30, 2022.
As a reminder, the portal Interview.ba wrote about this controversial public procurement worth approximately 1.1 million KM in early April 2023. The procurement aimed to purchase and install equipment for video surveillance of public facilities and areas. We also mentioned that this public procurement had been paused multiple times due to changes in procurement elements.
Regarding this public procurement, it was planned to install 118 cameras, including 6 thermal ones. The video surveillance was intended to be set up at four locations: Hrasno Brdo and the Municipality building, the premises of the Šemso Baručija barracks, the area of Hum Hill, and 18 community buildings. The tender documentation itself includes details such as “pixel size, minimum horizontal viewing angle, sensitivity level, hallway display capability”…
The Appeals Office explains that the “decision is final and enforceable, and can only be postponed by the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina based on a request to postpone the final decision or conclusion in an administrative dispute filed with the Court within 30 days from the date of receiving the decision.”
Two contentious aspects
They emphasize that Glock Sigurnost d.o.o Sarajevo, in their appeal, referred to the requirement that the bidder must possess a valid industrial security permit up to and including the level of TOP SECRET issued by the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They also raised concerns about the illegality of the technical specification regarding the cameras and the fact that the technical specification was provided in such detail that it directly indicated a specific manufacturer.
Our portal previously reported that interested suppliers believed that the procurement was contentious from two aspects: Firstly, the description of the required equipment provided sufficient details that implied the selection of a specific company, raising concerns about fairness. Secondly, there was a question of whether the Municipality had the right to monitor public facilities and areas using cameras that also recorded audio, as this raised the possibility of eavesdropping.
They were also concerned about the possibility that the report preceding this public procurement was conducted by a company biased towards a specific supplier. The reason for suspicion was the Municipality’s initial refusal to disclose the name of the company that prepared the report, stating that “the company will not participate in the tender.” The companies that obtained the tender documentation believe that this is not a guarantee, as the author of the report could have favoured a particular company by incorporating elements that only that company could fulfil.
“When they were searching for a company to prepare the report, they specifically requested someone with Cisco certifications, which is not typical for companies in this line of work. In fact, reports for video surveillance should only be prepared by security protection agencies, and even that should be done after market research. Additionally, we asked multiple times about the company that prepared the report. Only after several attempts did we receive information that it was NITESCO d.o.o. We suspect that this company is associated with a potential supplier whose certification they possess, and they favoured that supplier in certain elements of the report or requirements for this project”, explained a company that obtained the tender documentation.
Elements tailored to a single company
“It is common for the preparation of reports preceding public procurements to include elements that only a specific company or supplier can fulfil”, explained Slobodan Golubović from the editorial team of the Pratimotendere portal.
In one of the companies that obtained the tender documentation, they suspected that the procurement was prepared for SYS Company, which is an authorized distributor of Cisco systems in Bosnia and Herzegovina and is associated with Dahua Technology. Elis Hrkalović, who was previously engaged as an advisor in the cabinet of the head of the Municipality of Novo Sarajevo, now transferred to the municipal company ONSA responsible for the management and maintenance of the municipality’s properties, was the director of Dahua Technology’s representative office in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Including up to and including the TOP SECRET level
In addition, potential bidders considered the requirement in the tender documentation that the bidder must possess a valid industrial security permit, including up to and including the TOP SECRET level, issued by the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina to be contentious. This was primarily because the Municipality itself does not possess such a permit, which automatically deprives it of the right to make such a demand.
Security experts warn that this is indeed controversial and that the Municipality would need to establish its own security agency, which would then have to go through the process preceding the issuance of this permit, or enter into contracts with security agencies. This raises concerns regarding access to data that private security agencies may not be allowed to have without the necessary industrial security permits.
Certificates, permits, support
For clarification, the tender documentation stated that the bidder must have valid ISO 27001:2013 certificates (Information Security Management System) and ISO 27001:2013 certificates (Information Security Management System). It was also specified that they must possess industrial security permits for access to classified information up to and including the TOP SECRET level, issued by the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as a solution from the Ministry of the Interior of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina for performing technical security tasks.
Additionally, there was a requirement for the bidder to possess a manufacturer’s certification for the offered equipment, indicating an active partnership and technical competence to implement the proposed solution. They must be technically capable of providing the required level of technical support and service during the warranty period, and have professional technical certifications for at least five certified technical personnel for the implementation of the project, issued by the manufacturer or contractually related individuals involved in the project’s implementation.
Among the questions raised about this public procurement on the public procurement portal was whether the Municipality has the right to record sound.
Who will be recording whom?
Because, according to the tender documentation, intelligent video and audio functions are required for thermal cameras. This includes sound detection and qualification, temperature change detection, among other things. Sound detection and qualification require a microphone.
The Municipality claimed that they have no intention of recording sound but only want to have the capability of audio detection. They added that audio detection is crucial in cases where the protected area cannot be fully covered by video surveillance or perimeter protection, as audio detection covers all zones that are not protected by video surveillance.
Many open questions
They further explained that the Municipality will not be monitoring the equipment themselves, but it will be done by security services, such as the internal protection service or an authorized security agency with whom the municipality has a signed contract. In response to this, experts contacted by Interview.ba raised questions such as where the data recorded by this video surveillance will be stored, who will have access to them, who will process them, and to whom they will be forwarded. They also asked who will be servicing the equipment. These are the types of questions that always arise in procurements of such goods and services.
Tarik Hošić, an independent councilor in the Municipality of Ilidža, filed a criminal complaint against the mayor of the Municipality of Novo Sarajevo and unknown individuals in early March 2022.
High fee for appeal
Hošić believes that “the public procurement was rigged for a specific company and that it is much more expensive than it could be if it were truly open, at least by 500,000 KM.”
In this case, the Office for Review of Appeals rejected the appeals of A.E. Sigurnost d.o.o. Zenica and B.H.T Code d.o.o Sarajevo as “irregular.”
Some interested companies say they would also appeal, but the fee for appeal in a procurement of this value is around 7,500 KM. This is indeed a significant amount because the money is not refunded if their appeal is rejected.