- The White paper on the reform of the Public Sector Procurement Regime
- The explanatory notes to the Bill
The Procurement PrinciplesThe procurement bill 2014 was to reflect the reform recommendations of the White Paper that chose the Principle Procurement Model guided by the following procurement principles:
Value for Money This is not necessarily the lowest price, but rather the achievement of the best combination of price and quality to meet the particular needs of the client in the shortest possible time.
Transparency This requires that information regarding the procurement process must be in the public domain, where suppliers of goods and services have full access to information on procurement opportunities, requirements, rules, decision making criteria, and bids are opened publicly and award decisions are published.Accountability –This is achieved where officials of procuring agencies are clearly identifiable as are their responsibilities. They must be held directly accountable within the framework of ministerial responsibility to Government, Parliament and the Public at large. To be addressed in the reform was one of the main deficiencies of the existing system of procurement being the fact that there were many procuring agencies and many types of procurement were outside of the ambit of the Central Tenders Board, the agency then responsible for award of contracts and disposal of government assets. The Bill mentions the procurement principles in the introduction but they are not properly reflected in the body of the bill. CONCERNS 1The fact that the issue of “public money” is not adhered to in the Bill because of the exclusion of certain procurements from the bill- Clause 7 Concept of Public Money In order to avoid the situation of agencies and or types of procurements being outside of the purview of the Regulator, the person in charge of this new system of procurement and to protect the public purse from abuse, the concept of Public Money was developed.
- The term “Public Money”, is defined as including money received by a public body regardless of source, or money received by a non-public body from a public body.
- The legal framework was to embrace expenditure by – (a) a public organization for a public or private purpose; or (b) a private organization for a public purpose regardless of the source or type of funding where it can be reasonably inferred that the State is ultimately liable.
- The design
- The process of contracting and award of contract
- The implementation of the contract- inclusive of the monitoring and controlling of procurement
- Closure and evaluation
- In the full list of duties it is not clear what the Regulator’s role will be in the above. This new system was to handle all four areas. Apart from putting in place systems, who and how is the oversight of the procurement system to be done? One of the complaints with the present system is that the CTB has no direct involvement in the design of the terms of Reference (TOR ), nor the preparation of Requests For Proposal (RFPs), nor the monitoring or the execution of the contract.
- G – audit and review the system of procurement and disposal of public property to ensure compliance with the objectives of the Act;
- M – investigate, on its own initiative or upon complaint from any party involved in public procurement or disposal of public property or any member of the public, any alleged or suspected breach of this Act;
1. In the performance of its functions, the Office may –
(a) monitor the procurement of goods, works and services, and the disposal of public property, by public bodies to ensure compliance with this Act;
(b) conduct audits and periodic inspections of public bodies to ensure compliance with this Act; and
(c) carry out such other activities as it considers necessary.is the above adequate to get cooperation and force changes by organizations/government agencies that may be accustomed to do things their way? 6 Re procurement principles -The issue of transparency and the procurement website- it does not go far enough There is to be a website that is to carry forthcoming procurements- Clause 28. This is one of the major measures to address the issue of transparency. The United Kingdom has a procurement website that is more relevant to our situation. The main details of it are outlined below:. UK Public Procurement New transparency rules The UK Government has identified the need for greater transparency across all government operations. As part of its transparency agenda, the following requirements were introduced for all central government departments (including their agencies), all non-departmental public bodies, NHS bodies and trading funds: • all new central government information, communications and technology (ICT) contracts must be published online; • all new central government tender documents for contracts over £10,000 must be published on a single website made available to the public free of charge; and • all new central government contracts must be published in full. A website named “Contracts Finder” (see www.contractsfinderbusinesslink.gov.uk) was launched in January 2011as the Government’s single platform for providing access to the above public sector procurement-related information. For Trinidad and Tobago what is absolutely necessary is the inclusion online of the details of government’s contracts and information about their implementation re disbursements etc. This is the peoples’ money and so cannot be deemed to be of a confidential nature. It will aid transparency, one of the procurement principles of the reform measures. Presently audits cannot be done without the files and once a matter is being investigated important documents or the file can go missing. Often the persons being investigated are the ones who are in a position to remove sensitive documents. Online contract implementation information can be available to only a few persons who can be authorized to access it. It will allow for an audit to start in the absence of the files. The Act however will have to make provisions for this type of disclosure. It can also allow for information of a sensitive nature e.g. trade secrets to be withheld. 7-The issue of the disposal of government assets- clause 54 The Central Tenders Board had a role to dispose of surplus or unserviceable articles and real estate property belonging to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago or any of the Statutory Bodies. The CTB Act— states that “articles” means all goods, materials, stores, vehicles, machinery,equipment and things of all kinds. The more comprehensive listing is disposal of public assets including lands, building, intellectual property rights and other assets, real and financial, fixed and moveable, owned or managed by the stage or State agencies either by sale, lease, concession or license. The role of CTB is being replaced by the Regulator that has only a role to dispose of stores and equipment. Who is overseeing properly disposal? This and other types of disposal e.g vehicles, machinery,etc. need to be addressed. 8 The issue of measures to assist the small business sector to obtain government contracts Clause 30 states that a procuring entity shall ensure that suppliers and contractors
- (d) have fulfilled their obligations to pay all required taxes and contributions in Trinidad and Tobago;
- (e) have the necessary professional and technical qualifications and competence, financial resources, equipment and other physical facilities, managerial capability, reliability, experience and personnel to perform the procurement contract; and
- 1. use of public money as the cornerstone of any public procurement process;
- 2. definition of procuring agency encapsulating any organizations responsible for transactions in public money;
- 3. Effective independence for both Regulator and grievance resolution;
- 4. Value for money linked to performance/efficient use of Public Money; and
- 5. Embedded participation of civil society to maintain the integrity of the procurement system. On a matter of this utmost public importance, any government must publish its draft Bill for public consultation. Public procurement reform is far too important to our nation’s development for the usual secrecy and dishonesty to prevail.