Request for Expression of Interest (EOI) for IT Partner / Firm to Provide Capacity Support to Customize, Manage and Maintain a Property Tax and Business License IT System for the Freetown City Council (FCC)

Tender No: 2020A1

  1. Background

The Mayor of Freetown and the Freetown City Council (FCC) is pursuing a strong reform agenda, under the Transform Freetown Agenda.  Hence, the FCC has developed plans to achieve targets across 11 sectors and related initiatives include sanitation reform, construction of low-cost housing, and improving water supply. Dependency on external sources of revenue hampers the FCC’s ability to deliver essential services, effectively plan medium and long-term public works projects, and quickly respond to constituents’ demands. The FCC is intent on enhancing its own sources of revenue through tax reform and initial headway is being made — Freetown citizens can, for example, now to pay their “local tax” using mobile money.   However, significant long term increases in local revenue mobilization will depend on strengthening property taxation, while strengthening business licensing offers the potential of significant additional revenue for sustainable delivery of essential services in the City of Freetown.

The FCC requires the technical capacity and implementation support of a local IT Partner / firm to customize/ localize, mange and maintain a new IT system for the administration of property tax, business licences and future revenue streams which has been designed to FCC specifications and is currently under construction.

Description of Technology and Required Support

The FCC will customize and localize software for the administration of property tax and business licences and future revenue streams.  The FCC requires and is building an IT system with the software functions as intended on delivery, the reality is that once purchased software becomes outdated over time, needs change, reconfiguration as the FCC’s needs change, hence the need to localize technology management required to meet the needs of the FCC. There are many areas where future software progression is required. Also, the hardware running the software requires maintenance over time. These are the key issues to addressed under an IT Partnership with the FCC:

  1. Open Source. The design uses available Open Source programs. The underlying code of the software will be available to download by the FCC. Thus, a local IT partner / developer selected by the FCC will support customization and adjustments required to maintain the system.
  2. Configuration. The software is built around complete flexibility to configure many aspects of the inputs and design. For example, there may be requirements to make changes to the valuation adjustment fields, taxation changes and rate demand notice design changes. These are all configurable without any need to program additional software design
  3. Local Training. The operation of the software can be easily managed by local sources and provides an opportunity to increase FCC capacity to manage the IT architecture necessary for effective and transparent property tax, business licence and own source revenue administration.
  4. Hardware maintenance. Maintaining the hardware for the system is straightforward. Trained non-technical staff can perform most of the hardware tasks which will be completed by the FCC IT team and supported by the IT Partner. Non-technical tasks include restarting the server in case of power outage or failure, restarting relative services, securing backups and making sure that log files and indicator lights are free from error. This is regarded as first level support. In cases where the server is non-functional due to major failure such as hard disk, UPS issues or processor damage, the non-technical user will be trained by the IT Partner in re-installing the software to another machine and restoring the backups while a selected local IT Partner does the repairs. This is the second level support which will be contracted either on an on-call basis or on a retainer. The hardware design is industry standard. The server is specifically designed for running the software in more complex environments and can scale to integrate with other systems running additional software such as PETRA-PFM Smart. The specifications also require that the server has several hard disks and is setup to automatically backup across all disks during the operation. The technical term for this is RAID 5. If the server has 3 disks and one is damaged the system will just ignore the damaged disk, its light will turn red and the server will use the remaining disks to continue operating. This is possible because every file and every data record is copied across all disks as soon as they are entered.

 

  1. Data Security: Ensure encryption / data security processes to protect data from unauthorized access and data corruption, not only for accessibility purposes but also to mitigate any potential data loss.

Design

The fundamental design of the software surrounds two autonomous but integrated systems: (a) Mobile Survey Platform and (b) Back Office System.

Each component serves a different purpose:

  1. Mobile Survey Platform – This is used to collect information in the field using the 4G network and then to re-find the properties or businesses for delivery of communications to Owners such as Rate Demand Notices. The platform uses mobile phone devices programmed with an application using intelligent survey forms. The App makes use of offline data capture and two-way data synchronization. The application downloads data to each device based on the required configuration and can work in offline remote areas. Although the system is cloud based it does not require constant connectivity. Information can be uploaded to the cloud when there is a suitable signal.

Primary features in the mobile platform are:

  • Offline access / data synchronization
  • Customizable surveys
  • GPS and map
  • Charts
  • Image capture
  • Email notifications
  • Signature capture
  • Barcode scanner
  • Plus-Code support
  • What 3 Words support
  • Register new property or street
  • Draw polygon of the property roof extent based on satellite images, edit with dragging coordinates
  • Register attributes of a property, based on the configuration in the property systems
  • Register owners and tenants
  • Manage the list and naming of streets
  1. Back Office System – The back-office system brings all the data together and applies the functional workflow and business logic to the process. Once the data has been collected in the field using the mobile survey platform, the data is imported into the back-office system. The back-office system sits on a dedicated server allowing client computers to securely connect. This back-office system runs on all conventional browsers and uses technology that enterprise organizations such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft use to allow their systems to operate on the Internet when required. This means that although we will use the system within the FCC it is ready to connect to the Internet to facilitate remote use or intergovernmental integration as well as remote system integration.

Property Tax and Business License Functional Workflow.

The schematic shown below depicts the logical path of each property (or group of properties) and business that will be valued and billed. Each module represents a role in the workflow requiring an administrative approval. These steps could be in related departments. The modules can be managed by a single person or by multiple users in a decentralized setup.

The billing and payment functions within the system will be migrated to an upgrade of the PETRA financial accounting system utilized by all Local Councils [PFM Smart] which will serve as the Council’s financial management system for all billing (printing of demand notices) and payments.

  1. Objectives of the Property Tax and Business License Reform Project

The project aims to support an innovative and comprehensive reform of the property tax and business licensing systems used by Freetown City Council, with the goal of at least doubling – and ideally tripling – local revenue generation from these sources for development.

The reform program involves five key elements:

  • introduction of a new IT system to manage property taxation and business licensing
  • introduction of a new valuation methodology for property taxation, to be used in constructing a comprehensive citywide property roll over the course of 2020
  • conducting citywide sensitization programs to introduce the updated property tax system for FY2020
  • supporting the distribution of property tax notices and the development of new compliance, payment and enforcement strategies
  • the use of the new property rolls to contribute to the updating of the system of business licensing.
  1. Scope of the project (IT Support under 2.1 above)

The following key areas of support will be required of the selected IT Partner

Hardware Service requirements:

  • Serve as first line support for the FCC when it comes to hardware
  • Ensure that the server is running as required
  • Ensure that the server is protected from power outages and power surges (brown outs)
  • Ensure that errors are detected in the logs and dealt with as per protocol for the given error
  • Maintain back office laptops as required
  • In case of hardware failure, e.g.: memory or disk, replace failed parts as required
  • Ensure that server and laptops / computers are free of virus and have the correct antivirus

Software Development

  • Follow development progress via Monday.com – development tracking system
  • Be part of bi-weekly Agile Scrum meetings
  • Test modules using test scripts
  • Enter issues and change requests in Monday.com (within scope)
  • Once the software is released, participate in admin and configuration training

Systems Integration

  • Confirm the required integration technology and components. This is dependant on what PFM smart can handle; hence a need to fully understand the functionality of both systems.
  • Finalise the workflow and data processing logic in both systems. To date, we have a high-level workflow focussed on the process within PFM Smart after the initial data collection and “handover” through integration. Elements such as RDNs, payments etc. will rest in PFM smart.
  • Data definitions: Mapping the required functions and API service to the data needed to complete each step in the workflow. This way the data can be exposed and, in some cases, prepared/aggregated for API transfer.

Training of Users

  • Train and manage all system users.

Capacity Support to the FCC

  • Support management of new IT ecosystem at the FCC with direct capacity support to the FCC IT Team on all components of software and hardware management and maintenance.
  1. Location

Freetown City Council (FCC)

  1. Procurement Method

International Competitive Bidding (ICB) procedures for the selection of a partner in line with the Public Procurement Act, 2004.

  1. Requirements from Interested Bidders

The following pre-qualification documents shall be submitted by each Bidder:

  • Company Name, Certificate of Incorporation, Business registration certificate, Registration with Freetown City Council (mandatory for local entities), Postal address, Telephone, Fax, and Email.
  • Bidder’s profile (nature of business), Capability Statement, and Brief Company History;
  1. Reporting & Communication

Interested Bidders are required to seek for further clarifications through the following contact:

Warc Group, Martin Gonzales, adminfcc@warcgroup.com

  1. EOI’s Closing Date & Time

Interested bidders are required to forward electronic EOI letter and all accompanying documentations expressing interest on the project and attaching all supporting documents in fulfilment of the requirements as highlighted in 5.0 above either via email to hr.recruitment@warcgroup.com

OR

hand-deliver a letter addressed to:

Warc Group c/o Estefania Ramirez, 30 Battery Street, Kingtom, Freetown

NOTE: EOI letter with all supporting documents is due on or before 15:00 Hours GMT on Thursday 30th January, 2020.

Only shortlisted bidders will be contacted to participate in the proposals stage.

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