The licenses of firewalls and switches, critical for the protection from cyber threats and continuity of services of 32 ministries/divisions, are going to expire on January 23 which poses a significant risk, leaving them vulnerable to cyber threats and potential disruption of essential services.
The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication has moved a summary to Cabinet while seeking relaxation in Pakistan Public Regularity Authority (PPRA) for the renewal of firewall and switches licenses.
Firewalls and switches are critical for protection from cyber threats and continuity of services. This equipment was procured with subscription, support, and maintenance for three years, which will expire on January 23.
NITB has already reminded all concerned offices that timely renewals of services are essential as suggested by the NTISB. So far, 12 Divisions have responded, but most of the responses have expressed a lack of budget and have requested NITB to proceed with the procurement.
The impending expiration of licenses poses a significant risk, leaving 32 Ministries/Divisions vulnerable to cyber threats and potential disruption of essential services.
On the advice sought by NITB, PPRA has discouraged direct procurement under Rule 42(c) of the Public Procurement (PP) Rules 2004, and has advised to adopt open competitive bidding in accordance with Rules 20 and 21 of the PP Rules 2004.
The matter has been thoroughly deliberated, in terms of benefits of economies of scale and administrative efficiency. It was discussed that it will be quite difficult and cumbersome if tenders are issued from these 32 Ministries/Divisions for the same scope of work. Accordingly, the following is submitted for the consideration of the Federal Cabinet:
- NITB may be allowed to issue a centralized RFP for the renewal of the expiring licenses and support services;
- NITB may be allowed to make provisions in the RFP for the vendor to accept Purchase Orders from individual Ministries / Divisions;
- A Special One-Time Procurement Committee may be constituted by MoITT with appropriate representation from Cabinet Division and Finance Division, to finalize the vendor on behalf of all Ministries / Divisions;
- NITB may be allowed to sign the Agreement for renewal of the expiring licenses and support services on behalf of all Ministries / Divisions; and
- Ministries / Divisions may be allowed to issue Purchase Orders for the procurement of license renewals and support services, through their respective budgets.
The total cost for the renewal (for 3 years) of firewall licenses, maintenance and support of firewall, switches, and passive network equipment for the 32 Divisions is estimated to be approx. Rs. 230 million. Each Ministry / Division will accordingly be required to arrange funds in the range of Rs. 7 to 8 million, through own resources.
The Federal Cabinet may direct all Ministries and Divisions to arrange the funds by January 15 so that the process can be finalized in a timely manner. In case, any Ministry / Division has insufficient funds, the Finance Division may provide the necessary funding.