Conduct of procurement officers

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In the last article the discussion ended on general conduct of officers involved in public procurement processes. This is the last part of the discussion in relation to conduct expected of Procurement officers as the procurement function is being professionalised.

Responsiveness, efficiency and effectiveness

Procurement officers, as agents of their employers, must serve the legitimate interests of the Government, public entities, other procurement officers and civil servants, and the public as a whole in a timely manner, with appropriate care, respect and courtesy. Officers must;

Foster the highest standards of professional competence in themselves and amongst those for whom they are responsible.

Continually develop and apply knowledge to increase their personal skills and those of the entities they work for.

Strive to obtain the best value when expending public funds, to secure the efficient use of assets deployed through public management, and to avoid wasteful and extravagant use of resources in public programmes and official activities.

Strive for the optimal use of the resources over which they have control for the benefit of their procuring entities and the Government at large.

Treatment of gifts and benefits

Officers must take into account each of the following before accepting any gift or benefit.

The gift or benefit must be minor, of low value, and not readily resalable. Included in this category are minor gifts in the form of calendars, pens, advertising material and minor office furnishings; and conventional gestures of hospitality in the form of modest invitations.

Gifts and benefits that do not fall within the framework must be recorded and returned to the sender with a letter signed by the Accounting officer.

Regardless of the nature of the gifts or benefits received, procurement officers must report them to their line managers or, if there is no line manager, to the governing body of their procuring entities.

Gifts received by a procurement officer must be used for the benefit of the officer’s whole department or office through a scheme for sharing or distribution. This applies also to invitations to receptions or promotions, cultural, sporting or charitable events.

Officers must never solicit for gifts or benefits from bidders or potential bidders or contractors and soliciting a gift or benefit while on leave is no defence.

Invitations to procurement officers to participate in courses or workshops funded by bidders or potential bidders or contractors, must be assessed in the light of their context. Where procurement officers do participate, their expenses must be paid by their organisations.

Conduct during the pre-bidding stages

Procurement officers may;

Maintain contacts with the private sector in order to acquire technical familiarity with the goods, works and services they may be required to procure, so that they can more effectively draft bidding documents and evaluate bids, provided that the contacts are not used to limit competition in an inappropriate manner.

Accept invitations from suppliers to attend business meetings so long as the meetings enhance their knowledge of the market in addition to any knowledge they can acquire from the Internet, marketing journals, exhibitions and fairs.

Participate in joint exhibitions or forums with professional partners such as professional institutions, chambers of commerce and trade unions to increase stakeholder knowledge of the public procurement process in general or in relation to particular planned procurement activities.

Exchange or disclose information that is limited to completed procedures where a procurement contract has been awarded, so long as confidential information is not disclosed; and a description of the procuring entity and the activities of procurement services and other administrations involved in the procurement process. However, Procurement officers shall not disclose the information on the estimated values of the project or the scheduled date of consultations or any information that may give others an advantage on an upcoming process.

Disclose information about a draft procurement contract only through the publications prescribed in the PPDPA Act

Procurement officers must ensure that;

Observation to the provisions of the Act governing the need for transparency and equal treatment of bidders, in particular where there is a need to correct bidding documents.

Bidding documents are by an officer not directly involved in the procurement proceedings.

The record of participants in procurement proceedings is not disclosed to other participants.

The evaluation of bids and the award of procurement contracts is objective and consistent with the principles of fairness, equal treatment and integrity in the public procurement process.

Notification of contract award, handling of queries and challenges to procurement proceedings are done in a fair and transparent manner as required by the Act.

Conduct after award of contract

Once there is a contract in place it is the duty of O0fficers to;

Manage procurement contracts in accordance with terms and conditions specified in the bidding documents and that all decisions on the contracts are based exclusively on the terms and conditions of the contract, particularly with regard to the application of penalties or bonuses

Supervise and manage contract performance and ensure that there is full, correct and up-to date documentation of decisions on certification of performance, amendments to the contract and penalties and bonuses applied.

Ensure that relationships established with contractors under a procurement contract are not used as a pretext for private dealings.–

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