KINGSTON — The Management Institute for National Development (MIND) has had an overwhelming turnout for the first session of its two-day course on procurement documents, said the institution’s Director of Public Service Capability Development, Ann-Marie Smith.
She told JIS News that the agency was forced to turn away participants on Thursday morning (October 6) because the room was packed to capacity.
"We were originally anticipating about 30 to 35 public sector workers, but today we stretched ourselves to accommodate about 45 persons, and we had to turn back a lot of people, because the room was overflowing,” she said.
She noted however that MIND would be hosting a second two-day course on October 13 and 14 to facilitate those who could not be accommodated this week.
The course, which is being organised by the MIND in association with the Ministry of Finance and the International Procurement Institute (INPRI), will focus on the ‘Use of Standard Bidding Documents for the Procurement of Goods and Selection of Consultants’ and is being offered to procurement officers within the public sector.
Mrs. Smith informed that there has been a move to standardise the management of procurement processes across government in an effort to bring a level of efficiency and cohesiveness to the system, while adapting to international standards, and to enhance accountability and strengthen the quality of good governance.
"The use of standard bidding documents has become mandatory across government since the last year or so,” she said.
She however noted that the feedback from practitioners has been that they find the process complicated. “There is a lack of understanding …in the use of the documents and the forms, because it’s quite a bit of material that they have to go through,” she explained. “It’s quite a bit of reading, quite a bit of regulation and practices that they have to follow and so they have asked for clarity and a little hand holding in the process,” she said.
She explained that the main objective of the course is to help public sector workers gain a clearer understanding of the procurement documents and processes.
"The people that we have here today for these two-days are people who are currently utilising those documents. We also have another intervention that we have started to put together persons, who will need to use the documents but do not yet have any experience or exposure to them,” she informed. Mrs. Smith anticipated that this session will be held for three to four days.
Director, Procurement and Asset Policy Unit, Ministry of Finance, Shirley Gayle-Sinclair further informed that the adoption of the new procurement policy represents a significant shift from the way the things were done in the past.
“In the past, every entity would have made up their own bidding document from scratch. There was a lot of inconsistency, there were a lot of errors and omissions, and suppliers could not know what the bidding documents would look like from one entity to another,” she said.
Mrs. Gayle-Sinclair noted that this old way of doing things had proven to be inefficient and ineffective. “The thing about procurement is that if you neglected to put something in your bidding document you can’t just add it later. It’s a very controlled process, so you either had to start the whole process over again or you had to issue an addendum and give it more time,” she explained.
The two-day course is being led by President and Chief Executive Officer, INPRI, Jorge Claro, a public procurement expert with more than 35 years of experience with multilateral organisations such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
He has worked in the areas of project formulation, management and design, as well as public sector procurement policy, budget and finance.
Mr. Claro remarked that Jamaica has been doing a very good job in terms of bringing its procurement procedures up-to-date with global standards and internationally accepted practices.
"(Jamaica) has a very good handbook. There’s the standard bidding documents, as well as training for workers, so really, Jamaica has come a long way…in terms of bringing procurement out of the shadows into the light, from something that not a lot of people know about, to the forefront of discussions,” he said.
The Use of Standard Bidding Documents workshop is designed to enhance professional accountability and procurement standards while developing participant’s knowledge of bidding procurements and supply requirements, as well as addressing the structure of standard requests for proposals and general conditions of contracts.
The course will also look at the procurement of goods; the structure of the bidding documents; the bidding procedures; instructions to bidders; the evaluation and qualification criteria; issues to do with contracts; general conditions of contracts; special conditions of contracts; selection of consultants; and letters of invitation.
By Athaliah Reynolds, JIS Reporter