The newly tabled Procurement Bill that was presented to parliament in mid-September is likely not to allow information and data generated within the public procurement system for public scrutiny.
According to a report from the Institute for Public Policy Research(IPPR), information and data management has been lacking over the last two decades under the Tender Board Act that awards government contracts and this could be seen as a significantly contributory to the weakening of the public procurement system to date.
The Public Procurement Bill will replace the Tender Board. The procurement process will be channelled through a Central Tender Board. No members of parliament, local authorities, regional councils or those who have been dismissed from a position of trust will serve on the board.
The Procurement Policy Office, a key component of the Bill will prepare guidelines under the auspices of the Minister of Finance, while the Central Tender Board will use those regulations and guidelines to administer tenders.
The IPPR believes that the claim of the proposed dispensation will not be transparent enough, as it has been marred by tender disputes leading to long drawn out court cases.
The Procurement Policy Unit will monitor and evaluate the public procurement system process.
The report from the IPPR also believes that the scarcity of data on small and medium enterprises and the already tainted image of ‘empowerment’ initiatives, it is proposed that authorities urgently clarify the empowerment landscape before burdening public procurement and other governance systems with such measures.
“According to the proposed law, it will be a depository of information and data concerning procurement practices up and down the state’s procurement pipeline. It is ultimately positioned as having oversight over the activities and practices of the Central Procurement Board,” the IPPR.
The report further says that improved information and data management is need within the public procurement system at all times.
“The integrity of records helps to provide accurate information for fiscal forecasting and
establishes an audit trail to deter corruption,” adds the report.
The Tender Board’s procurement reforms report of 2014 admits to no proper Information Management System. According to the IPPR report this is a major weakness as without a functional information management system, performance monitoring and improvement initiatives cannot be done.
This discrepancy further results in the absence of monitoring the results of empowerment policies and job creation through Government procurement. Thus, there is no monitoring mechanism in place to keep track of the impact of public procurement in this regard.
The integrity of records helps to provide accurate information for fiscal forecasting and establishes an audit trail to deter corruption. The proposed law intends to fix this.
Meanwhile, a Procurement Policy Unit will attempt to prepare guidelines regarding procurement matters, including e-procurement, the letting or hiring of anything or the acquisition or granting of any right for or on behalf of public entities, and the disposal of assets.