JIS News

Senior Director in the Procurement Policy Implementation Unit (PPIU) in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Mrs. Shirley Sinclair, has said that the Government will introduce E-Procurement in 2010, as part of its modernisation programme.
“In 2010, our next major initiative will be E-procurement. We have a strategy which is basically our road map that sets out how we will go about implementing E-procurement. There is a system that we have identified and we are now in discussions with the Government that owns the system, about its adaptation,” Mrs. Sinclair told a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank session on Wednesday (December 2).
Over the last 10 years, the Government’s procurement system has undergone extensive modernization and reform to make it more efficient and transparent. During this time, the Government established and strengthened the National Contracts Commission and the Procurement Appeals Board, as well as revised and re-issued its handbook of Public Sector Procurement Procedures.
“Our procurement system has come a very far way, compared to where we were in 1996 when we shifted from the centralised mode of conducting purchasing. We are a lot more transparent, and this has had the effect of building public confidence in the procurement process,” she said.
“We are also more disciplined, in that we have clear and detailed rules which we didn’t have before and, in terms of oversight, we are under a lot more scrutiny,” she affirmed.
She pointed out that, as part of the modernisation programme, Government entities streamline procurement procedures to promote business activity and enhance the delivery of services to the public, as well as use standardized tender documents for consistency in the bidding process.
Switching her attention to the issue of human resource capacity, Mrs. Sinclair revealed that the PPIU has ongoing training and sensitisation programmes to build the competencies of procurement practitioners in the public sector.
“What we have now is sustained training initiatives led by the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service and, as a next step in the modernisation programme, we have started work on establishing a training course at the Management Institute for National Development (MIND) for the further development of our procurement staff”, she said.
She added that, between June and October, approximately 1,400 public sector staff were trained in the procurement discipline.
According to Mrs. Sinclair, since the training workshops, communication has increased significantly between the PPIU and Government entities and this, she believes, will help the unit not only to sensitise and educate public sector staff but also to ensure that the knowledge gained transfers into compliance with procurement rules and procedures.
The Senior Director cautioned the public not to assume that an entity is guilty of a breach or corruption, simply because the Office of the Contractor General launches an investigation.
“The role of the Contractor General is to monitor and investigate the procurement process. He has the right to call upon any entity and ask them to submit their records and to conduct an investigation on his own account, or at the instruction of Parliament. It doesn’t mean that something has been done wrong,” she noted.
The PPIU was established in 1999 and is the national contact point for procurement in the government. It liaises with all interested parties in procurement, both local and international, including multilateral institutions that provide financing for various Government projects.
The unit is also responsible for the development of procurement policy, and training and capacity building for procurement professionals in the public sector.

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