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GHANEP working towards an efficient and effective procurement system

Sun, 12 Apr 2020 Source: Yaw Ansah

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Very soon, all government agencies including district assemblies will not need to advertise tenders in the dailies.

The Public Procurement Authority (PPA) is upbeat that the Ghana Electronic Procurement System (GHANEP) websites will be the game changer by offering an online platform for advertisement.

Suppliers will also access tenders online and submit their response electronically.

Currently, suppliers are required to fill forms and respond to the bid by presenting hard copies of their response to that effect.

It is a big financial savings for state agencies, as they need not pay big for adverts. This is the way to go as the nation strives to demystify the procurement process perceived to be shrouded in secrecy.

This initiative is in line with the implementation of the principles of open contracting commitments in the Open Governance Partnership (OGP).

Ghana signed on to the OGP in September, 2011 with the sole aim of improving good governance and ensuring open contracting. A number of National Action Plans have been developed and implemented since.

The birth of GHANEP and testimonies

The GHANEP is a web-based collaborative system developed in accordance with the requirement of Public Procurement laws to facilitate public procurement processes in the country.

The platform offers a secure, interactive, and dynamic environment for carrying out procurement of all categories, complexity or value. It supports processes of procuring goods, works, consultancy, non-consultancy and disposal of assets.

GHANEP supports public procurement procedures including user registration, tender notification, tender preparation and submission, online tender evaluation, contract awarding, creation and management of catalogue and framework agreements, auctions and payments.

Two procurement officers of government agencies who have utilised the GHANEP say they fully support the initiative with the conviction that aside the gains to be made, just advertising bids online and receiving quotations electronically will reduce time and make the process easier.

“Already we have tried this during the pilot stages and it worked well for us. It even reduces the human element and the volumes of papers to be submitted in the process. We can heave a sigh of relief when it is rolled out,” the officer who pleaded anonymity, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), said.

Mr Thomas Bondzi, the Chief Manager, Information Technology Support Services, at the Public Procurement Authority, told the GNA that the successful pilot of the GHANEP in a number of state entities would eventually lead to improvement in value for money in public contracting.

He said the System allowed state entities and suppliers to conduct procurement activities online.

The piloting of the GHANEP was done from May to September 2019.

“We are preparing to roll out the GHANEP nationwide and once it is done, it will allow all public entities to make their procurement activities online. The public, especially the media, can access information on bids and awards on the website”.

The Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), with funding support from William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, implemented a project on strengthening disclosure and citizen participation to improve value for money in public contracting in Africa.

With the main aim of improving value for money in public contracting, GACC undertook several activities including advocating for transparency and accountability in procurement.

Ms Faustina Djabatey, the Project Lead, explains that the GACC worked with the PPA to conduct an assessment of the GHANEP website and made the necessary recommendations to ensure efficiency and transparency and meet Open Contracting Data Standards (OCDS).

She recalled that the GACC organised a capacity building workshop for stakeholders including journalists, civil society organisations, directors and procurement officers of selected ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

Months after the training, many of the beneficiaries spoke highly of the capacity building, which they reckon had enlightened them on open contracting commitments in the OGP National Action Plans.

Other success stories

Aside the operationalization of the GHANEP website, Ms Djabatey said the project had contributed to the passage of a credible Beneficial Ownership Register as part of the Amended Companies Act (Act 920).

This Register avails information on the natural owners of companies and thereby contributing to the detection of conflict of interest and collusion during procurement.

The public, especially journalists, can now boldly demand for the real identity of persons behind companies to ask probing questions during investigation.

Ms Djabatey explains that; “The GACC’s monitoring of this commitment allowed us to meet the Registrar General’s office to make input into the legislative framework establishing the Register.”

“During the deliberations, the issue of access to the register and thresholds for the declaration was highlighted, thus the threshold of ownership required for disclosure to be made. The Registrar General and her team must be commended for inviting the views of various stakeholders, including civil society.”

Additionally, Ms Djabatey said the GACC was actively involved in the Right to Information Coalition in Ghana that carried out outreach activities including press conferences, engagement with the Legislature, and sensitisation of citizens to advocate for the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill into an Act; The RTI Act, 2019 (Act 989).

Columnist: Yaw Ansah