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Transforming procurement processes
Transparency in the process of procurement within the public and private sector is expected to improve, as Telecommunications Services of T&T (TSTT) recently launched its e-tenders online platform.
This comes after the procurement processes used for state projects has been the subject of debate, with issues of accountability and transparency taking centre stage.
Areas such as cost overruns in projects, to relatives of ministers being awarded contracts, to the actual methodology used for selection of a contractor have all been called into question.
In the mid-January conference hosted by the T&T Contractors Association (TTCA) Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley had accused contractors of padding their contracts.
Underscoring improvement in the procurement process in T&T is the fact that a procurement regulator has been appointed.
Moonilal Lalchan currently sits in the role as chairman of the Procurement Board.
Delivering remarks last Friday at Hyatt Regency hotel, TSTT CEO Dr Ronald Walcott said the e-tenders service is part of the company’s digital transformation strategy and, “was originally developed as a means of improving efficiency and transparency in our own procurement process.”
The e-tendering platform utilises TSTT’s technology to operate it, Walcott said.
He added that TSTT’s growth strategy is wrapped around T&T’s overall development.
Speaking specifically about the e-tender software and its contribution to transparency in T&T, Walcott added that it promotes good governance and service excellence by bringing buyers and sellers together on a level playing field.
“It also improves productivity through quality infrastructure using a secure globally accessible portal to eliminate the need found in traditional tender situations, to physically move people and documents around and the attendant higher costs associated with such activities.”
On a global scale he said the e-tender service builds T&T’s global competitiveness through the enabling technology, as well as well as improves the country’s reputation as a technology hub because T&T would be using an online platform to perform its procurement process.
TSTT sealed the deal by signing an MoU with iGovTT which is the implementation arm of the Ministry of Public Administration and Communication. This ministry, in turn, has the responsibility to implement government’s ICT strategies.
Gerry Brooks, chairman of TSTT’s tenders committee, said the signing of the MoU represents a game changer in public sector procurement and supply chain management especially in the context of the new procurement legislation.
He added that TSTT is now poised to introduce a new range of innovative consumer and enterprise services that will provide clients with a competitive advantage in the ICT sphere.
“It will enable clients to procure more efficiently, to sharpen your supply chain processes, how you buy, how you administer contracts, leading to timely and cost effective project execution with real time accountability and savings.”
Illustrating his example of cost-savings that comes with using this platform in the business community, Brooks said TSTT used it and reduced its procurement spend year on year by 14 per cent or over $200 million.
Brooks added, “Digital procurement management is an imperative given the pressure on government revenues, the need to rationalise costs and the need to generate effective returns on investment in infrastructure and other assets.”
According to Brooks, the e-tender model has five components:
• Request for proposals or RFP management: allowing for a totally online, transparent experience from RFP purchase to RFP submission and enabling global participation
• Document management: allowing for workflow tracking and data storage all in one hub
• Tender evaluations: allowing for a seamless tender evaluation process replicating the physical manual process
• Contract administration: allowing for monitoring of key performance indicators, service level agreements and milestones for all contracts
• Cloud storage: bundled with the software to eliminate the need for iGovTT to spend on physical server infrastructure and manpower for managing same
Commenting further on the e-tendering solution Brooks said, “it embeds an audit trail consistent with the Government’s new procurement legislation ensuring vendor and public confidence in the process and outcomes.”
Substantiating his point for the establishment of an e-tendering process he said, “it promotes transparency by collecting and publishing public procurement information and enhancing the access for suppliers and other stakeholders through standardised and simplified processes.”
He added that the e-tendering process would promote competition among suppliers which, in turn, may encourage lower prices.
Two countries outside of T&T which use e-tendering are Brazil and Georgia, Brooks said.
In Brazil, the implementation of e-procurement led to 51 per cent savings in transaction costs.
In the State of Georgia, within one year of launching the e-procure ment platform, the number of tenders processed rose from 2,000 to 33,000 with savings that approached US$400 million in 2015, Brooks said.
Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte said the signing of the MoU provides, “a governing framework to jointly market and implement TSTT’s e-tender software as a service to 22 ministries, 119 companies and 135 statutory bodies. This means that a veil has been lifted on some of the challenges that would have been a deterrent to doing business with the Government for many in the private sector.”
He added that there can be no doubt that the e-tendering process is the future of public procurement.
“The website is completely visible to the participants online. For the first time vendors will be able to see who submitted bids and who was successful.”
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