New Government Procurement Guideline made public | Sunday Observer

New Government Procurement Guideline made public

After a hiatus of over eleven years, a new Government Procurement Guideline, issued by the National Procurement Commission, one of the ten Independent Commissions under the 19th amendment of the constitution, was released to the public, last week. The guidelines and the procedures recommended are expected to ensure transparency and accountability in public procurements.

According to the Commission, this is the first time where the ‘procurement guidelines of the country have been published as a constitutional requirement thereby getting the coverage of the Supreme law of the Country.

“The new set of procurement guidelines will usher in a more transparent, fair, equitable, competitive and cost-effective system of public procurement with integrity in achieving sustainable development,” the Chairman of the Commission, Nihal Wickremasuriya said.

E-procurement is heavily boosted in the newly introduced guidelines through the ‘Open Contracting Data Stand’ (OCDS). However, the full implementation of e-procurement will take up to 10 years as seen in other countries, according to a member of the Commission, Christy Perera. The objective is to promote transparency by regularly publishing procurement data in accordance with OCDS enhancing stakeholders trust and confidence in the entire procurement process and maintaining consistency in the application of unique procedures across Procuring Entities.

OCDS is a document-tagging standard that was first introduced by the World Bank. In 2015, the working group within the World Bank who maintained the OCDS project left the Bank and formed a private partnership to push OCDS.

“The Commission’s job is to introduce policies and guidelines. Implementation of policies such as the system for e-procurement has to be done through the Ministry of Finance.

We may not see a full implementation of e-procurement, but we at least will make the initial steps such as calling for bids and filing bids will be made available’’, Perera said.

Ethical practices in the system are also impressed upon to include standards of conduct and norms of behavior as sought to be defined and imposed by relevant laws, regulations, and codes.

“All parties associated with procurement activities are expected to maintain strict confidentiality throughout the process except to the extent as may be mandated by law,” the guidelines state.

According to a Government Gazette published on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 the “performance of the functions vested in terms of Article 156C (1) of the Constitution, the National Procurement Commission published these guidelines for procurement of goods and services, works, consultancy services and information systems by Government institutions and to provide for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto.”

Meanwhile, there is no clarity on the date from which these guidelines shall come into force. The Gazette states that these guidelines “replacing all Procurement Guidelines, Circulars and Directives as prevalent on that date, shall be a date no later than 30 days after receipt of the approval of the Parliament.

Commission officials indicated that Parliament is yet to indicate a date for the debate, but that they are expecting the guidelines will be in force by August, this year. An important change envisaged by the guidelines is the appointment of Procurement Appeal Boards (PABs) to hear appeals at different authority limits. These will include:

lPABs for Cabinet level Procurements related to Standing Cabinet Appointed Procurement Committees (SCAPC), Cabinet Appointed Procurement Committees (CAPC), and Cabinet Appointed Negotiation Committees, (CANC).

lMinistry PABs for Ministry level Procurements Committees (MPC).

lDepartment level PAB/PPABs for Department/Project level Procurements related to DPC/PPC

lRegional PABs for Regional level Procurements related to RPC

PABs are responsible to examine and hear each appeal submitted by aggrieved parties and make its recommendation to the relevant authority. In the case of Cabinet and Ministry level procurements, the PAB recommendations shall be copied to NPC, the guidelines state.

Any defaulted contractor/bidder/supplier shall be considered for blacklisting or banning to participate in the public Procurement Process for a period specified by the appropriate authority.

The Commission shall maintain a database of defaulting contractors/suppliers that shall be updated regularly.

The Participating Entities should not award any contracts to any bidder, as long as their names remain in the database, the guidelines state.

Another significant change is the introduction of making available Copies of the bidding documents together with any consultant’s reports that were submitted in relation to evaluation of the bid/proposal to any bidder at their request in terms of the Right to Information Act, No. 12 of 2016.