March 19, 2013Doug Hadden
Liza Benkovitch, Pre-Sales Consultant
A government procurement portal is a platform that allows web users access to information on public spending, procurement procedures (bidding processes), tenders and awards. Users are able to access the bidding documents and review the tender process to ensure that all bidding vendors had equal opportunity in the bidding process. Procurement portal is an example concept in open government, where the public has direct and interactive access to government expenditure information.
Goals of Procurement Portals
The objective of a procurement portal is multi-dimensional. Its primary functional purpose is to show how public funds are spent. However, the broader goal for a procurement portal is to help governments achieve transparency and accountability in public financial management.
Scenario in Procurement Governance
Consider the following situation in Cameroon, where public procurement process heavily challenged by many forms of corruption . The government of Cameroon has lost FCFA 70 billion (US$143 million) to private pockets through the non-execution of public contracts . Given that contract award procedure is done through open invitation bidding process and is subject to Public Contract Award Agency (ARMP), there still exists a loophole via contract fragmentation. Contract fragmentation is the beginning of the corruption stage which can be eliminated by a procurement portal with strong auditing controls. In addition, there is a problem of unexplained delays between awarding the contract and release of funds, as well as lack of performance monitoring after the contract has been awarded.
The FreeBalance eProcurement Portal is an example of a solution to the overall problem of procurement corruption as we have described previously . The portal integrates back-office automated procurement procedures with commitment accounting from the FreeBalance Accountability Suit. In the particular case of Cameroon, a procurement portal would allow contract delivery and monitoring, as well as the value for money in the contract award process.
Procurement portals are of high value to governments wishing to demonstrate integrity, promote transparency and accountability in management of public resources. Portals have become a way for governments to promote active civil society participation – as information is available on a real time basis to all categories of users: NGO’s, civil servants, businesses, and general public. Users can search for various types of procurement awards and trace any fraudulent activity. The direct access to information holds the government accountable for keeping the procurement process corruption free.