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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Procurement reforms du jour

Scotland.  Local preference and training.

Scottish procurement reform bill sent to Parliament
Changes to public procurement rules in Scotland that will make it easier for small businesses to bid for public contracts have moved closer, as a reform bill goes to Parliament. The Procurement Reform Bill sets out how European legislation will be interpreted and put into practice in Scotland.

First minister Alex Salmond said the bill would generate new training and employment opportunities. The Bill will require public bodies to consider how procurement activity can improve the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of local communities.

“Our Bill here in Scotland will give Parliament the opportunity to go further than Wales, by taking the power to regulate how companies are selected to bid and how their suitability should be assessed,” he said. “These regulations will address blacklisting, working within the framework of EU law.”
Namibia.  Centralization and effective review.

Namibia introduces legislation as part of procurement reform
The country seeks to streamline large public sector procurement, help SMEs and reduce loopholes.
Namibian procurement reform edges closer
The Public Procurement Bill would create a Central Procurement Board to centralise the management of high-value contracts across the public sector, while a review panel would give aggrieved bidders a route for redress without having to go to the courts.

Minister of finance Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said as she tabled the bill: “The intention is to provide for the speedy resolution of such complaints, which will minimise the frequency of bidders’ recourse to court actions.”

The bill also seeks to stimulate economic growth by giving preference to local businesses and socially disadvantaged groups, according to the state-owned New Era newspaper.

The new law also repeals the Tender Board Act of 1996, which is described as “no longer sufficient or adequate to achieve the country’s developmental objectives”.

Unlike the tender board, which dealt with almost all public sector contracts, the new board would only deal with contracts over a certain threshold value, with lower value contracts dealt with by the public body concerned.
Singapore.  Integrity enhanced.

Trust in public service crucial to success of govt policies: PM Lee
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has emphasised that a major determinant of success in implementing government policies that improve the lives of people is trust in the government, and in particular, the public service. He said it is important that Singaporeans trust that the government understands their needs, is committed to the people, and will remain a steward of the public good.

He said: "Ultimately, integrity is not about systems and processes but values. The government must have a culture that doesn't tolerate any wrongdoing or dishonesty and the public officers must have the right values -- service, integrity, excellence -- and each officer and the service as a whole must take pride in being clean, incorrupt. "This is your command responsibility, you cannot devolve it to your subordinates, you cannot leave it to your procurement or financial officers. You are the boss, you are in charge."

Mr Lee also stressed that critical to maintaining public trust is upholding the highest standards of integrity -- something which has been painstakingly built up over many years. Mr Lee said because there is integrity, businesses can compete fairly instead of relying on improper influence. And because there is integrity, public officers can be given the discretion to exercise judgement when managing multi-million dollar projects.

The Prime Minister emphasised that one reason why Singapore has been able to maintain a clean system is that it pays public servants properly in line with the quality of the officers and the value of their contributions. He stressed that this policy will continue. In return he said, Singapore insists on the high standards of performance and integrity, and if an officer is discovered to have been dishonest, he will be punished to the full extent of the law.

Mr Lee said this principle will be maintained even when it may be embarrassing to the government. Mr Lee acknowledged that the past year has seen a string of high-profile cases involving public officers, including some senior ones in sex for favours scandals, procurement lapses and fraud cases.

He said beyond these individual cases, the public service must strengthen its systems to uphold reputation for integrity and incorruptibility, and dispel any doubts that standards have fallen. Head of Civil Service, Peter Ong, said Mr Lee's presence at the annual seminar was a clear demonstration of the type of leadership he is encouraging public sector leaders to show - that is to lead by example and model the right values for staff.
Singapore officials to declare casino trips after graft scandal
Singapore civil servants must declare casino visits starting Tuesday, authorities said, months after a senior anti-graft official was charged with embezzling state money to fund his gambling habit. Civil servants must declare within seven days if they have visited the city-state's two casinos more than four times a month, or if they purchase an annual pass that allows unlimited access, the government's Public Service Division (PSD) said.

Government officials in certain positions where "misconduct will have significant reputational risk to the Public Service" must declare every visit within seven days, it said in a statement. Singapore pays its civil servants some of the highest government salaries globally in what it says is a deterrent to corruption.

Civil servants involved in gaming enforcement as well as others who represent the government in business dealings with the two casino operators will remain barred from visiting the casinos unless in an official capacity.

The agency said it was also bringing in compulsory job rotations and block leave for some officials holding positions that "are more susceptible to being suborned and exploited if the incumbent were to remain in the same job for too long". "Officers are expected to maintain the highest standards of personal conduct and integrity, and their actions must not bring the Public Service into disrepute or call into question its impartiality," PSD said.

The move follows a string of high-profile corruption cases in the city-state, including one involving Edwin Yeo Seow Hiang, an assistant director at the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), the country's graft-busting agency. Large-scale graft cases remain rare in Singapore, a thriving business hub and financial centre, and the government has jealously guarded its reputation as among the least corrupt in the world.
New Zealand.  Uniformity.

New government procurement rules come into effect
The new rules replace 44 different pieces of legislation, Cabinet directives and miscellaneous guidance released by a multitude of government agencies over many years. The emphasis will shift from who can deliver the lowest upfront costs to who can deliver the best value for money and other direct financial benefits over the life of a contract.

“By... making the tendering process consistent across the public service, we expect to make our procurement business more accessible to smaller local firms who previously may have been discouraged by the process,” Economic Development Minister Stephen Joyce said in April when announcing the changes.

The new procurement rules will apply to all Public Service departments, the New Zealand Police and the Defence Force. Other State Sector agencies and the broader Public Service will also be encouraged to adopt them.

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