- The Government plans to institute a scale/grade mechanism for professionals within the system.
- The move is intended to ensure that only professionals of the highest level have responsibility for public procurement.
- In the process, there will be extensive training as well as certification of procurement officers.
To improve the efficiency and transparency of the public procurement process, the Government plans to institute a scale/grade mechanism for professionals within the system.
This was disclosed by Minister with responsibility for Public Service in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Hon. Horace Dalley, who noted that this move is intended to ensure that only professionals of the highest level have responsibility for public procurement.
“We feel that procurement, given the nature of what has to be done, should be at a senior level within the Ministry, Department, or agency,” he said, while addressing the Government of Jamaica National Public Procurement Conference, held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, on Wednesday, March 19.
The Minister informed that in the process, there will be extensive training as well as certification of procurement officers, noting that Memoranda of Understanding have already been signed with some agencies and institutions to undertake this process.
In the meantime, Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies, said the training of a specialized cadre of professionals is critical to improving the public procurement process.
Dr. Davies, who was giving the keynote address, said there is a need to have specifically trained persons in procurement rules and guidelines to handle these matters within each Ministry, and not for example, the Personnel Officer or Office Manager, who have merely been asked to carry out this task.
“Oftentimes you are dealing with multi-million dollar contracts and somebody is just assigned this task without the full recognition of the importance (of the procurement process) and having a trained professional dealing with the matter is a critical element of making the system more efficient, in terms of the procurement guidelines,” the Minister argued.
Minister Dalley, who also has responsibility for overseeing the modernization of the public procurement system, said the Government is moving ahead with plans to improve the system.
“We set out two years ago to fix public procurement and to take the pressure off public officers and this cloud of corruption that people tend to heap on public officers because simple errors were made. But at the same time, public procurement officers must improve their skills in public procurement and at the same time, the system must be improved,” he said.
Mr. Dalley noted that as part of this improvement, a new public procurement law will come on stream soon, and there will be a comprehensive revision of the handbook of public sector procurement procedures and the standard bidding documents.
In addition, improvements are expected to be made in the procurement contract process and steps are also being taken to implement a fair and robust contractor performance assessment system.
The two-day conference, being staged for the first time, is organized by the Procurement and Asset Policy Unit within the Finance Ministry, with support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Held under the theme: ‘Public Procurement: A Mechanism for Economic Growth’, the event seeks to provide practitioners of all Government procuring entities with an update on policies, pending legislative and institutional reforms, and offer procurement practitioners the opportunity to network in an effort to assist in improving efficiency in their daily functions.