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Friday, March 21, 2014

Professionalizing procurement -- Jamaica

Gov't moves to improve procurement process
Minister with responsibility for Public Service in the Ministry of Finance and Planning Horace Dalley who made the announcement Wednesday, said the move is intended to ensure that only professionals of the highest level have responsibility for public procurement. The minister said that in the process there will be extensive training as well as certification of procurement officers, noting that memoranda of understanding have already been signed with some agencies and institutions to undertake this process.

In the meantime, Minister of Transport, Works and Housing Dr Omar Davies said the training of a specialised cadre of professionals is critical to improving the public procurement process. Dr Davies said there was a need to have specifically trained persons in procurement rules and guidelines to handle these matters within each ministry, and not, for example, the personnel officer or office manager, who have merely been asked to carry out this task.

"Oftentimes you are dealing with multi-million dollar contracts and somebody is just assigned this task without the full recognition of the importance (of the procurement process) and having a trained professional dealing with the matter is a critical element of making the system more efficient, in terms of the procurement guidelines," the minister said.

"We set out two years ago to fix public procurement and to take the pressure off public officers and this cloud of corruption that people tend to heap on public officers because simple errors were made. But at the same time, public procurement officers must improve their skills in public procurement and at the same time, the system must be improved," he said.

Dalley noted that as part of this improvement, a new public procurement law will come on stream soon, and there will be a comprehensive revision of the handbook of public sector procurement procedures and the standard bidding documents.

In addition, improvements are expected to be made in the procurement contract process and steps are also being taken to implement a fair and robust contractor performance assessment system.

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