Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) was created to provide transparency and governance over the procurements done by various provincial, federal, semi-state and state enterprises.
A key of requirement is that for procurement an advertisement must be placed in the newspaper. Tender (or RFP/RFQ) documents for purchase are usually assigned to the vendors who seek to supply goods &/or services against some fixed small fees and a 2.0% bid bond is usually required when submitting your bid.
To make the whole process more transparent and in-sync with the medium available out there today, here are some steps that PPRA can take to make public procurement cycle more beneficial (i.e. convenient and transparent):
1. Do away with advertising in newspapers: Many times you will see advertisements appearing in either the provincial newspaper section, or some near nondescript newspaper or whatever. No business can possibly subscribe to all the newspapers, etc. just to keep tabs on what is being offered up for possible bidding.
Opponents to this idea may argue, that businesses need not subscribe to all the newspapers as all the advertisements are already covered by PPRA. Yes, whilst this is true in a “scanned” sense, the classification is absolutely dismal. PPRA’s listing of ads on the website is no more fanciful than merely scanning the advertisements and roughly classifying them. I’ve seen 1000s of advertisements whereby in a single (printed/published) ad, the tender notice is for computers, carpets, UPS, cupboards, stationary and uniforms. All encompassed within the same ad. How the heck does this get advertisement get classified? Well in the present scenario, it would be looked at and from the looks of it – whatever seems of more value/importance, it would be placed under that category, in this instance it could be placed under “Uniform Supply”. Multiple classification becomes the need of the hour.
Which brings us to the basic problem, to do away with the printed advertisements, PPRA needs to utilize a system of coding (like perhaps the harmonized code – HS code). If there are 30 (different) items being tendered for within the ad, then the placement must be under 30 different categories.
To make the whole process even more simpler and effective, a web-based application can be utilized to cut-and-paste say a Word document or PDF of the ad, and ‘tags’ can be utilized.
Such usage of the Internet would enable a lot of businesses to become tech-savvy in my opinion by being forced to use the Internet, if not educate a few along the way to the new medium of business.
2. The second suggestion is to use PDFs for document delivery without cost. Everyone should be able to get the tender documents – via PDF, without having to pay for it. It doesn’t make sense to physically visit an office and pay for poor photostat copies of a tender. The document in the first place were already prepared using a word-processor, so why not convert it into a PDF document and let anyone download it.
It also becomes unfair for companies not based in the particular city, for example if a certain RFP requires it to be picked up from an office in Lahore – what about those companies who do not have an office in Lahore? It becomes a logistical nightmare for them to arrange to have one picked up.
Lets do away with the physical limitations and let the documents be available via the Internet for downloading. Lets save trees. Lets recycle electrons. Lets go digital.
3. Lastly, for submission under 2-envelope process, a slabs-based approach should be assigned for submitting the bid bond. Tenders below Rs. 1 Million should be Rs. 7,500, between Rs. 1 Million and Rs. 5 Million the bid bond should be Rs. 50,000 and so on and so forth. This makes it easier. Most companies will check upon the financial bid bond being present – when accepting bids, which defeats the purpose, as one can always calculate the overall bid price determined from the 2.0% bid bond. We all know that companies vying for the business try to do all they can by trying to find out the price of their competitors before hand and thus the 2.0% bid bond acceptance and being recorded during bid acceptance has got to change.