TOP
Monday,October 26,2020 13:19 PM
  • Home
  • Supplements
  • Public Procurement and Disposal Authority has come a long way

Public Procurement and Disposal Authority has come a long way

By Vision Reporter

Added 19th September 2012 01:57 PM

The Government of Uganda initiated reforms in the public procurement and disposal sector in 1997, following the enactment of the 1995 constitution and the introduction of several reforms and structural adjustment programmes.

Public Procurement and Disposal Authority has come a long way

The Government of Uganda initiated reforms in the public procurement and disposal sector in 1997, following the enactment of the 1995 constitution and the introduction of several reforms and structural adjustment programmes.

By Prossy Nandudu
 
The Government of Uganda initiated reforms in the public procurement and disposal sector in 1997, following the enactment of the 1995 constitution and the introduction of several reforms and structural adjustment programmes.
 
Prior to this, public procurement was governed by the 1977 Public Finance (Tender Board) Regulations under the Public Finance Act of 1964. The system was centralised and had been in operation for over 30 years. The size of the Government had grown considerably and the centralised procurement system.
 
The system was characterised by many challenges which included, heavy clogging of tender requests and attendant bureaucratic delays, inefficiency, corruption and lack of accountability and transparency. The reforms were initiated against the backdrop of lack of accountability and transparency and absence of a culture of value for money procurements and disposals.
 
The Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development issued the Public Finance (Procurement) Regulations 2000 to initiate and regulate the new system.
 
The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act 1 of 2003 was passed by Parliament in November 2002 and assented to by the President in December 2002. The law was gazetted in January 2003 and brought into effect by the Minister of Finance Planning and Economic Development on 21 February 2003.
 
The Act set up the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority as the principal regulatory body for public procurement and disposal.
 
The main objective of the PDDA was to ensure the application of fair, competitive, transparent, and nondiscriminatory and value for money public procurement and disposal standards.
 
Milton Tumutegyereize, the director of Training and Capacity Building at the authority, says, when PPDA became operational in 2003, everything was new.
 
All stakeholders did not know the new system. There were no structures in place so procurement was being done randomly because there were no regulations to guide.
 
Instructional framework 
After the formation of the authority, there was need to implement the law and the regulation, hence the need for putting up institutional framework in all procurement and disposal entities. This led to the formation of auditing officers in almost all government departments, contract committees were set up and procurement and disposal units and user departments were formed.
 
First there was need to implement the law and regulations in addition to putting up institutional framework in all procurement and disposable entities (PDUs).
 
At the same time, entities were requested through the ministry of public service and the public service commission to recruit and fill up vacancies in the created PDUs
This also involved the recruitment of staff to fill up the gaps in the procurement offices that had been created.
 
International consultants
Consultants were hired from outside the country to help set up the authority and train staff. Tumutegyereize adds that these were instrumental in the formulation of regulations, standards formulations, bidding standards, capacity building among others.
 
Challenges
Because the officers and the authority were fairly new on board, there was need to train all stakeholders involved in the system. When the authority started, many people including the authority staff did not have the skills to carry out procurement work. When the regulations came on board, the authority had difficulty when it came to the implementation of the regulations, especially in ministries.
 
Stakeholders in the ministries first resented the reforms so they deliberately refused to comply with the law. And because there were no procurement structures in place, so many ministries were not complying with the laws and procedures because the law was new.
 
Tumutegyereize says it took long for stakeholders to come to terms with the new guidelines under the authority, but are now able to sail through with increased capacity building and continuous check for compliance. At the time the authority started, there were no procurement professionals in Uganda. There were only 23 qualified professionals in procurement. This meant that those already employed did not have the necessary  qualifications, but had to be trained on the job. This also meant there was a challenge of recruiting qualified staff to man the authority.
 
Current setbacks
There is still non-compliance of entities because while it is a requirement to make a procurement plans, have them approved before its implemented, some departments do not have procurement plans. That is why they make last minute decisions, which has on many occasions resulted into poor work and loss of Government revenue.
Most of the providers still lack the skills of preparing responsive bids. Procurement offices at district level are understaffed.
 
Achievements
Tumutegyereize, who has served the authority from the time it started, is happy that they have been able to carry out procurement audits. “At first we had only four, the number grew to eight and later to 16. It is currently at 92,” he says. Tumutegyereize, however, says this is still not enough given the fact that there are about 300 entities, which are bound to increase with the coming on board of new districts and local governments.
 
The authority has been able to put up standard bidding documents, plus their specifications in collaboration with the Uganda bureau of standards. There has been harmonisation of procurement procedures, especially those in local governments as well as statutory bodies who are business oriented like National Housing. One of the biggest achievements is that local universities have taken on the course.
 
There are more procurement professionals being churned out unlike in the past where there were only 23 qualified procurement professionals in Uganda.
 
Future plans 
PPDA plans to expand its mandate at a regional level to ensure that they reach areas that they have not yet reached in the last 10 years, if resources allow.
 
The authority is currently under performing due to inadequate resources that have not allowed them to recruit more human resource, which can then be deployed in regional centres across the country. He says they are also developing an e-procurement strategy to carry out procurement services faster.
 
Adjust audit rules - UNRA
 
By Vision Reporter
 
The Public Procurement and Disposal Authority has been asked to adjust some of its rules, especially on the check list while carrying out procurement audits. This will encourage compliance and demand for their services. 
 
It has been established that because of the stringent checklists that PPDA officers use while carrying out audits, many prospective users have become non- compliant and most of them shy away from normal procurement audits and programmes. 
 
The advice was sounded by the director procurement at the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) Ayalew Kebede Belew, who has worked closely with the PPDA for the last two years. 
 
The procurement practitioner says when carrying out audit and there are simple omissions, these should be ignored. He explains that concentration should be on whether the project is promising in terms of revenue inflow for the economy and also ensuring that there is value for money and service to the population. 
 
Ayalew says they appreciate the initial start of PPDA, which had good approaches of compliance for economic gains, but the approach has to be revised. He, however, says the Audit check list previously concentrated on compliance and not value for money, a trend he says should be changed to encourage more people to comply. 
 
When doing procurement omissions and errors are inevitable, which calls for consideration, especially if the projects being handled have high economic gains at the end of the day. Ayalew adds that there is no way a project can be 100% perfect in the procurement process.

Public Procurement and Disposal Authority has come a long way

Related articles

More From The Author

More From The Author