Tech-savvy tendering

CEO of the State Owned Enterprise Procurement Forum, Kamogelo Mampane
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Public sector procurement has over the years become a messy affair in South Africa. With inordinate amounts of office administration and corruption often involved in the process, many have come to accept the fact that this area of the public sector needs some cleaning up.

To address some of the issues related to the tendering process, Government has introduced the e-Tender Publication Portal, a single platform where tenders will be published to simplify, standardise and automate the procurement process by eliminating the duplication and fragmentation of the notices for government tenders.

According to the National Treasury, the benefits of the portal include the reduction of costs and efforts associated with the traditional tender publications and an improvement in the transparency and accountability with regard to the awarding of government tenders.

Service was curious about the new tendering platform and spoke to CEO of the State Owned Enterprise Procurement Forum and TK Global Experts, Kamogelo Mampane, facilitator of the fourth annual Legal Compliance of the Total Tendering Process Conference, held in association with event organisers Intelligence Transfer Centre (ITC), in Johannesburg last year.

When asked about some of the biggest challenges faced when looking at public sector procurement, Mampane says, “Organs of state spend billions of rands through procurement of goods and services, however service delivery remains a challenge.  Transformation of the procurement spend is still below 50% to black owned entities. If you apply the new codes the spend falls to below 30%. SME's failure rate is still unacceptably high with a major cause being the State. High levels of duplication, administration costs, unclear specifications, no strategic procurement and no supplier relationships management—especially contract management, are also issues of concern.”

Looking at the significance of introducing the new online platform, Mampane says it is major innovative step that will reduce costs of compliance and administration. He says suppliers in the country and abroad now have a central place to find opportunities within the state and that everything will be transparent—not to mention single registration as opposed to the many forms that usually need to be filled out to access these opportunities.

When it comes to transparency Mampane says the platform will ensure that there are no bids under the table, “all bids and awards are now on top of the table, this is transparency of the highest order.” He further points out that many state organs are ready to assist SMEs that might be “e-challenged”, providing them with necessary access, training and support. According to Mampane, many state organs also have a supplier development initiative to support SMEs and black owned entities with tools and training access to the markets.

Looking at how this innovative method of e-procurement is aligned with Government’s financial management system, Mampane says, “This lays a platform for a centrally managed financial system.  Procurement is one of largest portions of government budget and expenditure which unfortunately in the past has been mostly managed manually. It will be extremely difficult if not impossible to move towards an Integrated Financial Management System (IFMRS) without first making sure that Government has procurement, supply chain management and finance information.”

When asked how the new e-tendering portal will align with the Public Procurement Regulatory Act, Mampane points out that technology in general plays a crucial role when it comes to improving efficiencies and increasing transparency in the supply chain environment. He says Section 214 of the South African Constitution highlights the importance of the governance throughout the process. As Government reviews the Supply Chain Framework, management information that will be derived from the implementation of technology will enhance and support the regulatory and review work already underway.

Mampane also says, “Sourcing is an important part of supply chain management. There are however other important areas of supply chain such as strategic souring, demand management, reverse logistics and supplier relationship management. It is rather unfortunate that the focus in recent times has been on the 'tender'. We need to move closer to service delivery and ensure that South Africans are reaping the benefits of Government’s investment and getting value for money in the process.”

With specific reference to the upcoming Legal Compliance of the Total Tendering Process Conference, Mampane says they will be sharing best practice in sourcing and e-sourcing and show delegates the best tools to use to build suitable departments that can create a conducive environment for SMEs which will in turn encourage innovation, partnerships and inclusive growth. He points out that the discussion at the conference goes beyond e-tendering and includes assessing the level of interaction and relationships that are required to build a sustainable environment for both state and its supply base.

“We will also be challenging the value-add by both government and private sector in assisting the country to deal with the triple challenges facing South Africa. Agreements between public and private sector were signed, but we will ask if these were implemented, what are the challenges were, and what can be done to collaborate for the betterment of the society,” he concludes.

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