An eProcurement reform workshop, organised by EBRD UNCITRAL Public Procurement Initiative, took place in London on 5-7 December 2013.
Almost 40 participants gathered to discuss a range of issues such as models of eProcurement systems, legal frameworks, developing tools for implementation and market contexts. Participants came from the EBRD UNCITRAL Initiative, governmental representatives from Mongolia, Morocco and Tunisia, the World Trade Organization, UK law firms and procurement training bodies.
Mr Michel Nussbaumer, Head of the EBRD Legal Transition Programme, opened the conference, which was also addressed by Mrs Charlotte Ruhe, Director of the EBRD’s SBS Programme, Mr Holger Wiefel, Regional manager of the SBS Programme, and Mrs Caroline Nicholas, Senior lawyer of UNCITRAL. There then followed three packed days of presentations, panel discussions and workshops that covered a wide range of issues on eProcurement in developing countries.
Mr Tato Ujrumelashvili, Chairman of Georgia’s Competition and State Procurement Agency, compared the lengthy and complicated process of paper tendering in his country to the current system, which has been in implantation since 2010. Georgia’s eProcurement platform and new legislation was launched in test mode in August 2010 with the first e-tenders announced in October 2010. By December 2010, paper tendering had been completely abolished. Up to November 2013 more than 89,000 e-tenders have been carried out in Georgia.
A session by Mr Paulo Magina, the former chairman of the ANCP in Portugal, explored why central purchasing works best in the eProcurement environment. He presented detailed information on Portugal’s policy goals and legislative measures, and stressed that developing and implementing a technological model capable of providing full support to framework agreement procedures is essential.
On behalf of the UNCITRAL Secretariat, Mrs Samira Musayeva, Legal Officer, addressed UNCITRAL’s policies on eProcurement and how the legislative frameworks had developed since 1994. As a regulator for ERAs, UNCITRAL sought key characteristics that included bidder anonymity, automatic evaluation of bids and a framework allowing for stand-alone tenders or submitted in combination with other procurement methods.
Mr Jonathan Denison Cross, a former adviser to the British government and Mrs Caroline Hobson, Partner at CMS Cameron McKenna LLP presented a session on the public procurement framework in the UK. He explained that the regulations derived from secondary legislation from both the UK’s three legal systems as well as EU directives. The principles of openness extended to transparency at all levels plus non-discrimination. The UK government is currently working to level the playing field for companies bidding for government contracts. Tenders are expected to provide value for money and winning tenders are often those that are most economically advantageous. Corruption in the public procurement process is abnormally low with little evidence of collusion.
The conference closed with speeches by Mr Eric Guetschoff, Policy Advisor of EBRD on an EU-funded programme to provide support to SME development in Mongolia, and Ms Eliza Niewiadomska, Principal Counsel - Public Procurement also of EBRD, who spoke on the Legal Transition Programme.