Contractors, suppliers and consultants vying to secure bids on works, goods and services from the ministries of finance, education, works and human settlement and Samdrupjonkhar dzongkhag administration should register with the e-procurement system by July 25.
The Prime Minister has issued an executive order directing these four agencies to pilot the e-procurement system with immediate effect.
The order states that all registered bidders would be provided training by the Government Procurement and Property Management Division (GPPMD) under the Department of National Properties.
While these four agencies are mandated to use the e-procurement system for all kinds of procurement, the registration, tender and submission fees would be waived off for the bidders until further notice.
As per the terms of reference of the project, it is estimated that the government will float about 3,000 procurement works a year with an annual growth percentage of 10 percent. It is also estimated that there are about 15,000 bidders who would ultimately use the e-GP system against 1,000 procuring agencies using the same system.
Once the users, both the procuring agencies and bidders get registered, the e-GP website will display news and advertisements of procurement opportunities of Government Agencies, which can be sorted and filtered. The website will also publish circulars, amendments, instructions related to Public Procurement and it will display award notifications and details of the winning bidder.
Each procurement process starts when procuring agencies enter the information of tenders to be advertised in e-GP. The system will allow bidders to respond to the tender, provide appropriate information and make changes to their submission before the closing date.
The e-GP, as per the terms of reference signed with the developer, shall issue one time code via SMS and email to validate the authenticity of bidders. On the selection of the successful bidder, procuring agencies will have to publish the award notice in e-GP, including the name and address of the bidder, bid amount and status of the contract.
The system administrators from the department will verify and approve the accounts for procuring agencies and bidders.
From the date of award notice publication, there is a 10-day period where other bidders can file their complaints.
The e-GP system will also be integrated with the Department of Civil and Census Registration System to verify the authenticity of personal information of procuring agencies and bidders.
The revenue administration management information system (RAMIS), licenses registration system, Bhutan InfoCom and Media Authority (BICMA), and the Drug Regulatory Authority (DRA) are other agencies that would be involved in the verification process. The e-GP will automatically disallow the upload of bid if the documents are found invalid.
Once the e-GP is fully in place, evaluation of tender will be online for the procurement of goods, works and consultancy Services. The online evaluation cycle includes invitation of bids, opening, evaluation and award. The evaluation will be done by the nominated evaluation committee who would login with their user credential to get access to bidding documents. It will not have access to any of the bids except for which they are nominated to evaluate.
While the Prime Minster announced that e-GP should be adopted by all government agencies from next year, developers of the system said that leadership role is crucial in successful implementation of the e-GP.
A readiness assessment conducted by the World Bank states that there is limited evidence that policy, management, or standards are in place and being supported. It was also found that there is little evidence that adequate human resource planning or private sector integration were in place.
The report also highlighted that respondents were however generally positive to the government proceeding with the transition to e-GP and commented that there is political will to make change and need to make public and private stakeholders fully aware of what it intends to do.
This is particularly important given the mixed views on issues, and some uncertainty in the private sector. The key constraints were seen as a lack of funding and public data on procurement.
The World Bank has recommended that more comprehensive training for procurement managers and staff and suppliers on procurement issues and the use of computers must be provided. This is now beibng done.
Raising the competency and number of people with ITC skills and procurement management skills was also one of the recommendations. It was also recommended that improving the consultation and participation process between the government and the private sector was crucial.
It highlighted that there is often a lack of transparency and accountability standards required for good governance, reducing choice and competition. “As a result, opportunities to do business with the public sector are limited by the paper-based tools available, the existence or perception of privileged access and the exclusion of other potential suppliers becomes inevitable,” the report stated.
Traditional procedures, the report stated could limit the scope for competition and often require strict internal control and approval procedures that make the procurement process less efficient and more cumbersome.
“When this occurs, delivery times are longer and processing costs higher. The amount of time allowed for the execution of some types of contracts may become excessive,” the report stated. “Higher processing costs lead to higher costs for goods and services being acquired.”