Implementation of electronic government procurement (e-GP) systems

4. 8. 2022
Štítky

Electronic government procurement (e-GP), which is the procurement of goods, works, and services through internet-based information technologies, is emerging worldwide with the potential to drive procurement reform, increase competition and promote integrity in public procurement. If appropriately designed, it can drastically reduce costs, make information easier to access, and reduce opportunities for corruption. The three broad objectives for an e-GP strategy are Governance (Transparency & Accountability), Effectiveness (Efficiency & Value-for-money), and Balanced Development (Competitiveness, Business development, and Regional Development). A full e-GP solution comprises three main areas i.e., e-Tendering, e-Purchasing, and e-Contract Management. Therefore, this paper aims to discuss the concept of e-Government Procurement (e-GP) and assess why and how an e-GP framework should be established. It should also highlight the benefits of E-Government procurement (e-GP) in encouraging good governance in public procurement by improving transparency and eliminating opportunities for fraud and corruption, and the effectiveness of e-Procurement system implementation to improve public procurement management through the automation of all underlying processes. Moreover, the six strategic foundations for the successful development of e-GP: (1) Third-party Integration, (2) Governance, (3) Business Functionality and Standards, (4) Institutional Capacity, (5) Application of Technology, and (6) Evaluation, the strategic foundations for the development of e-GP, the Readiness Self-Assessment, and the road to a successful e-GP implementation are also highlighted.

 

Electronic government procurement (e-GP) refers using information and communication technologies (e.g., the Internet) to facilitate a more efficient and transparent exchange of information, interactions, and communications among public authorities and suppliers of goods and services. However, it should not be confused with e-procurement, a general term for using information and communication technology to process and manage some or all of the transactional steps of the procurement process. An e-GP system is e-procurement specific to and conforms to government procurement regulations. Governments use information and communication technologies (ICTs) to exchange information with nations and businesses on issues such as tax compliance, public utility services, vehicles, and voter registration.

Accordingly, Electronic Government Procurement (e-GP) is the use of information technology (especially the Internet) by governments in procuring works, goods, and services requested by the public. Electronic Government Procurement breaks down spatial and temporal barriers and enables a more transparent and efficient flow of broader access to information and services. These information amenities are the Internet, standards, best practices, databases, and infrastructures that could support the three overall objectives of an e-GP strategy. 

The path to a successful implementation of e-GP is not only through the application of an IT system but also through a procurement transformation program that renovates the overall government goals of transparency, governance, efficiency, and business development. Electronic Government Procurement is one part of an overall procurement operation and should take into consideration the legislative framework, rules and regulations, policies, and oversight that will govern its operation as a business service. It should be clear that the mere introduction of technology into the traditional procurement environment alone cannot deliver the potential benefits that electronic procurement solutions offer. 

The e-GP system can be the central component of a procurement reform strategy and should support the interactions between governments and suppliers. A well-implemented system helps to combine various supporting government operations, including financial management, contract management, and assessment & monitoring activities. A cohesive e-GP strategy can provide a level of openness and transparency that cannot be realized through existing dispersed system operations. 

The Objectives of e-Government Procurement

It is widely recognized that e-GP has the potential to improve all eight characteristics of good governance, i.e., accountable, transparent, responsive, equitable and inclusive, effective and efficient, the rule of law, participatory, and consensus-oriented. A full-fledged, end-toend e-GP system would address all of these objectives; however, procurement entities initiating the implementation of e-GP must arrange project goals consistent with the context in which the system is implemented, including what is feasible and what is necessary. 

The main objectives and benefits of e-GP are: 

 

  • Economy - Substantial savings in the cost of items purchased or improvements in their quality is achieved. These are considered to be due to a reported increase in competition for government procurement opportunities tendered using an e-GP platform. 
  • Efficiency. Reductions in transaction costs, primarily from electronic workflows and automated transaction processing, are a vital source of cost savings for the government
  • Effectiveness. With e-GP, transaction data from electronic transactions are recorded automatically and used to generate various real-time analytical reports. One advantage of this reporting capability is that central purchasing bodies (CPBs) can negotiate more competitive pricing and enhance value-for-money opportunities. 
  • Better accessibility. Online publication of tender notices in a centralized web portal lets suppliers search and locate bidding opportunities with a minimum effort. It is becoming increasingly common to make tender documents available as free downloads.
  • Enhanced transparency and accountability. Suppliers, governments, and the general public can track and monitor all procurement activities at any stage of the process in real-time. Important transparency features include enhanced public access to updated policies, bidding plan information, standardized documentation, bid evaluation progress, and reporting of results.
  • Economic Growth. In encouraging a more rapid take-up of online technologies by businesses and thereby promoting economic development, e-GP can be instrumental. The implementation of e-commerce will significantly reduce the cost of transactions for government suppliers and communities. 
  • Cross-border trade. An e-GP system provides a business development tool for both governments and supplier communities by providing local, regional, and international access to information and opportunities. 
  • Balanced and comprehensive. Online publication of tender notices, e-bidding, and e-payment level the playing field for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises when competing with large enterprises for public procurement opportunities. 

 

1-Reform strategy to implement e-GP

Implementing e-Government Procurement (e-GP) requires more than technical specifications. 

Political and institutional leadership are also considered critical features of an e-GP strategy. e-GP encompasses more than the automation of existing public procurement processes. Key policy and regulatory changes need to be made to ensure the effective application of e-GP. These decisions affect many different aspects of implementation, like functionality, legislation, and technical considerations.

A lead central procurement authority with the capacity and authority to drive procurement reform is needed; without them, an e-GP implementation will be of limited value. E-GP will comprise an independent procurement policy and regulator, accompanied by a separate central procurement unit in charge of managing and maintaining the e-GP system and arranging instruments such as whole-of-government framework agreements. 

Interdepartmental working groups or committees may also be required to develop various aspects of e-GP, such as business process reengineering. Certain key policy and regulatory decisions have to be made, to ensure the successful implementation of e-GP.

Operational Policies of e-Government Procurement

The policy and regulatory decisions pertain to many aspects of implementation, such as functionality, legislation, and technical considerations. Government policy toward the development and implementation of e-GP should support the e-Government Procurement Objectives. In other words, policies that guide the various aspects of e-GP should be entirely consistent with the key procurement principles of transparency and accountability (governance), economy and efficiency (VFM), equality of access, open competition, non-discrimination, and promotion of domestic contracting and consulting industries (economic development).

In addition to procurement law, procurement policies must be set forth, considering all circumstances that might affect the e-GP environment. These policies should accustom the existing paper procurement process to the electronic environment rather than duplicating it directly. The transition to e-GP will reflect changes to several standart procurement practices and will introduce new issues associated with the support and operation of an electronic business service. Policy and regulations should govern the system's operation, and procurement laws should be established specifically for the e-GP system. 

The specific workflow details for how those practices are incorporated into the e-GP system should be framed into procurement policies that account for management practices and transactions in the electronic environment. Procurement policies should be clearly defined and reflected in the system’s terms of use and instructions for bidders. They should address how documents are received, queries are electronically submitted, and support for the submission of bids and bid securities. 

The procurement policy and regulation must be revised to include management practices and dealings in the electronic environment, handling any operating circumstances that may not have been present under the manual process, such as online pre-tendered contracts, electronic tender bid opening protocols, mobile technology options, IT security policy e-payments and e-receipts policy, etc. 

Translating these policies into operational effect has implications for the application of e-GP in the following areas: (i) bid advertising, (ii) technological neutrality, (iii) technical standards for interoperability and security, (iv) processes such as ensuring good audit trails, and (v) cost and ease of participation. 

Centralization vs. Decentralization

An e-GP strategy has to envisage a single system across all government entities and between different levels of government. This makes better use of the technology and particularly minimizes duplication of processes such as security management, catalog management, and supplier registries, as well as interoperability issues. It also simplifies a separate login for suppliers, improves the supplier's efficiency, and increases the scenarios for alternative procurement methods such as framework agreements. 

This approach is supposed to symbolize the centralization of procurement, but it does not. It represents a unified information infrastructure for procurement rather than the centralization of procurement itself. Each entity and level of government has full responsibility and control over the procurement process. Procurement remains decentralized but shares a common infrastructure, as do other national infrastructures for trade, such as national currency, national laws, and national banking systems. Individual ministries and levels of government are often expected to be able to adapt the unified system to their administrative needs without sacrificing common elements. In circumstances where multiple systems are unavoidable, single sign-on (SSO) and a common portal are still recommended as a minimum. 

Leadership

Political and institutional leadership are the most important elements of an e-GP strategy. A central leading procurement agency, the capacity, and authority to drive the procurement reforms is required; without this central agency, e-GP will be of limited value. The Restructuring involves standard bidding documents, the government framework agreements, policies around the use of e-bidding and e-reverse auctions, and whole-of-government policies for online catalogs and security.

In the absence of adequate leadership, there is a high risk that e-GP implementations will be fragmented and that systems will not be interoperable or possess the core data capture required to enable proper performance assessments and financial integration. Fragmentation can also exacerbate security risks and add to development and maintenance costs. 

Where possible, it is advisable to set up an autonomous procurement policy and oversight unit alongside the separate central procurement office, in charge of the strategic operational roles of leading and maintaining the e-GP system and arranging instruments such as the whole-of-government framework agreements. Cross-departmental task forces or committees can then 

be organized as needed to develop various aspects of an e-GP system, such as business process reengineering. 

These institutional capacities may need to be supported by legislative changes before e-GP can be fully effective and may affect the rollout schedule for e-GP. 

Institutional Roles

Developing and implementing an efficient, effective, and interoperable e-GP system requires a lead agency with full responsibility for the service. Legislation may be necessary to ensure that this agency has the authority it will need to design, develop (or commission), and implement such a system across other government entities. This lead agency should also have the authority to prevent various entities from fragmenting the system by developing their systems. In other words, the territorial behavior common between government departments should not be carried into cyberspace.

Procurement Processes and Practices

Public procurement rules follow standard practices for purchasing goods, services, and work projects. These include the identification of a need, request for tenders or quotes, signing an agreement or purchase order and a contract management activity. The application of more productive procurement methodologies, made possible in an electronic environment, may require legislative change. If the introduction of framework agreements is not possible under the existing procurement legislation, this shortcoming should be addressed as a priority.

In addition, an automated e-GP environment offers more effective monitoring and control systems that, in turn, may facilitate changes to how procurement is regulated. Traditionally, public procurement has been administered by procedure-based rules that outline the acceptable processes in detail. Governments have challenged this approach, and standards and performance-based procurement rules are appear. The regulatory framework must allow for effective performance-based indicators and technology-supported governance systems. Thus, e-GP lets public procurement be developed into performance-based instead of procedure-based, calling for a comprehensive alteration of procurement legislation. 

The procurement process and associated practices are guided by various regulations and policies about the approaches and procedures to be applied to the tendering process and purchasing requests. Some countries will use a single-envelope process for tendering, while others prefer to follow a two-envelope system whereby the technical and financial bids are submitted separately.

Tenders may call for a national competition or an international competition. Suppliers may have to pre-register with an agency to participate in a tender, or tenders may be open to any supplier that submits an expression of interest or letter of intent for purchasing a bid package from the buying entity. Each tender option or process has its own merits and associated issues. In some cases, the country's procurement system may differ from the rules and guidelines of the donor agency funding a specific project. 

Legal and Regulatory Framework

The legal and regulatory framework for public procurement must enable e-GP so governments can securely execute the procurement process and award contracts electronically. Model Laws on Public Procurement and other similar documents can be used to get background and descriptive information on the policy issues and vital principles and procedures. 

The core legislative requirements for e-GP and e-commerce deal with electronic documents and signatures. Several other legislative reforms could be added in the select areas, to address basic requirements relating to e-documents and e-signatures. Those would include: (i) electronic records management, (ii) consumer protection and privacy, (iii) laws on legal evidence, (iv) data protection and confidentiality, (v) intellectual property and copyright, and (vi) Rules of Procedure. However, these areas are generally not considered prerequisites for the initial application of e-GP.

The general legislative framework should combine existing legislation and regulations into a common law supporting the implementation and use of e-GP following the defined guidelines and regulations. Besides, the law should provide high-level guidance to public entities about managing the entire life cycle of public procurement, ranging from preparing the annual procurement plan to keeping records of procurement processes. The law should make it mandatory for all public entities to adopt the provisions and guidelines set forth, and any procurement performed outside the law can be declared null and void. 

Moreover, the implementation of new laws may represent a considerable project, and significant effort and may require significant effort and time to go through the legislature or Parliament. For this reason, the governing law for e-GP should not deal with the working details of the e-GP system. The working details of the e-GP system should be governed through policies and regulations issued by the lead agency, which can be implemented as required to address issues of the day. 

Although e-GP requires a range of business and public sector legislation, it is possible to initiate some valuable elements of e-GP without legislative amendment. Legislation that allows for policy to be developed and changed without requiring a significant change to the legislation has some merit in dealing with evolving procurement issues. Some specific legislation may have already been enacted about e-commerce, including issues such as authentication, privacy, and data security. 

The legislative program for e-GP often shapes the implementation schedule. It may affect the overall development of the system itself if it attempts to specify too many functional details or proposed workflows for the system. The passing of the legislation could end up being more extensive project than the development of the e-GP system. The preferred alternative is to shift as much as possible to the policy framework, which can be supported through directives and regulations issued by the head of the organization. The supporting legislative framework would support and institute e-GP as a government program to be used following the policies and directives set out for its use. 

2- strategic foundations for the development of e-GP 

For governments that have yet to implement e-GP, the decision should not be whether to implement it but how to approach the e-GP implementation. Many e-GP system options are on the market today, designed by the government, for government or business, that can be adapted to a government e-GP environment. The key to effective implementation is not only linked to the selected e-GP system application with all of its features and functions. Still, it has more to do with the government and how it organizes itself to manage the business delivery of the system. The achievement of the system is based on the government's leadership in implementing the system, the procedures it sets forth for using the system, and the support it provides to ensure the system's successful operation, including any necessary procurement reforms.

Transitioning from the Manual Procurement Process 

The introduction of an e-GP system will affect the procurement practices, the rules, and the policies governing the procurement process. It may involve a significant change in operating procedures for the buying agencies and suppliers.

In the Manual Procurement Process, the standard practice for procurement is that an agency is must place an advertisement in a newspaper, place a notice on a bulletin board, or send an invitation to a select list of suppliers. The suppliers contact the agency to receive a bid package, attend a bid conference, and submit their response directly to the agency. 

Government procurement is follows the rules or regulations defined by bylaws and financial and administrative controls. The procuring agency is responsible for supporting the procurement process, which includes creating bid packages for multiple interested bidders and notifying bidders of any update or amendment to the bid package including any responses to queries.

The shift to an e-government procurement (e-GP) system will not occur instantaneously, nor is its implementation a short-term information technology development project. The transition to e-GP is a business restructuring process that involves creating a new business service operation and should be part of an overall procurement reform process. The program should be supported by a dedicated organization that can oversee the system's administration, management, ongoing development, and operation. In the meantime, the government must give the dedicated organization the necessary leadership, accountability, and authority to fully support the operations of e-GP. 

Using an e-GP system represents a major transformation in the process for the procuring agencies and supplier entities. The government must ensure that procuring agencies and suppliers are properly informed of the transition to e-GP and can adequately access and use the new system. One of the main challenges when introducing a new system is changing the convictions of existing practitioners to accept new approaches and practices. A full communication, training, and support program is critical to the initial system implementation and ongoing operation. It is also essential to ensure that participating agencies have the necessary resources to use the e-GP system, such as computer and network infrastructure. 

Selecting the business model for e-government

The application of the system is beyond a short-term information and communication technology (ICT) project. Instead, developing an e-GP system reflects a redesigned business process to achieve new policy goals for a more open, efficient, effective, and transparent procurement environment for the government. The implementation of the e-GP system is generally related to establishing of government-wide procurement reforms and is supported by a comprehensive information management system that enables future data mining and auditing of the procurement process. The e-GP system can become one of the most valuable resources for managing and monitoring government procurement by enabling direct real-time access to each stage of activity, analyzing past transactions, ensuring full compliance with rules and regulations, analyzing spending, and new program plans. The most common approaches/models used by governments for the implementation of e-procurement include the following: 

 

  1. State-owned and operated. The e-GP system may be a government-developed and operated e-procurement solution that may or may not have been delivered by third-party partners. The Republic of Korea and Singapore governments own and operate their services. Singapore developed its system in-house, whereas the Republic of Korea contracted out the development of the system. 
  2. Government-managed service. The e-GP system can be a government e-procurement solution owned and operated by an external partner. Business dealings, support services, data, and the government e-procurement portal are possessed and controlled by the government. 
  3. Public-private partnership. The e-GP system might be a government e-procurement solution managed, possessed, and operated by a third-party service provider, often with the intent to transfer the platform back to the government in the future.
  4. Shared service. The e-GP system may be a third-party e-procurement service that is fully managed, owned, operated by a third party, and used by one or more governments and suppliers.

 

The model selection is linked with the extent of risk and cost a government organization is ready to accept when applying for its e-GP program. Governments should know that e-procurement includes more than just the technical improvement and employment of applications and infrastructure; it also involves the business services required to support ongoing development activities and to build customer relationships. 

It is important to remember that e-GP systems fundamentally provide a service to support the procurement process and that the system operation should remain independent of the procurement process itself. Regardless of the business model selected, the government is still responsible for the management of business services being delivered. It will need an operations management unit responsible for managing the service operation even when the service is entirely outsourced to a third party. 

Single System or Multiple Systems approach 

Technology and services exist that allow any organization or authority to establish its e-GP system to meet the procurement and information management needs of their organization, whether it is an organization around a single department, city, state agency, national agency, or government. Economies of scale for e-GP systems come from having more buyers and suppliers using the same system environment. 

A single system Method

A single system approach is the most effective option for a government, state, or departmental organization whose primary goal is to establish an open, transparent system to support its procurement program. The authority is better positioned with a single system to implement standard practices and monitor all activities. At the same time, the supplier community only has to register in one system to access and participate in multiple opportunities. A single system simplifies integration with other e-government systems as the systems would interact with a standart system interface for the e-GP system and reduce any duplication between processes or data management functions, providing a more seamless environment for suppliers conducting business with the government. 

The capacity to implement a single system is subject to the legal powers that are made available to mandate the use of the system. Some departments within selected organizations may have significant procurement volume to support their e-GP system implementation to serve better their supplier community and their internal information and financial management systems. A country'scommunication infrastructure and regional structure may also be better served through local system implementations. 

Multiple Systems approach

Implementing multiple systems in a jurisdiction, although each system can support a robust e-GP implementation program on its own, can increase the overall cost of e-GP across the government and may create closed or regional systems, creating confusion in the supplier community. Suppliers may be subject to different registration processes. The government must establish accepted processes and data requirements to service each system if it wants to establish a single supplier registry for all systems. Multiple systems may limit the ability to develop a national monitoring program to properly analyze data collected from different systems and thus limit the ability to ensure a fully transparent process is applied across all government organizations.

When choosing the implementation method that best suits their needs, governments must consider the various technical and business challenges in their environments. The approach for implementing of a particular system should be driven by business needs rather than technical needs, as the implementation of e-GP is primarily a business issue. Before attempting to establish a national program, governments should consider pre-existing systems, particularly where selected agencies already have e-GP systems. In such cases, the existing e-GP systems in these jurisdictions may need to coexist with other systems due to existing contractual relationships with service providers or investments that have been made. Governments must establish guidelines and policies followed by the e-GP systems and ensure that all systems comply with overall procurement reforms and rules. They must also ensure that the existing e-GP systems can support the reporting requirements of the national or regional program, as procurement is not only about the e-GP application but also about the general policies and laws that govern procurement. 

Choice of Software and Implementation Considerations 

The reason most often cited for the failure of e-GP initiatives is not one of management responsibility or ownership; whether self-managed or outsourced, e-GP frameworks have had spectacular successes worldwide in both the private and public sectors. But they have also had their failures. The most regularly mentioned cause for the failure of e-GP initiatives is that the program has failed to attract enough vendors to create a critical mass of users to justify the initial investment and sustain future investments. Low supplier participation may be because the government agency implementing the e-GP platform has not done the necessary outreach to suppliers to make them aware of the benefits. However, the typical reason for poor supplier participation is structural and can be attributed to one or more software-based concerns, which include:

 

  1. the software selected was too challenging to implement and so had less availability and value, 
  2. use of the software was so expensive that all but the larger suppliers were priced out, or 
  3. the software was simply too tough to get admission to or use from a supplier’s evaluation and assessment;

 

Therefore, when implementing e-GP, a government needs to realize that operational management and support is an activity that will be required throughout the system life of the e-GP initiative, which may span 10, 15, or 25 years into the future. From the outset, the government needs to plan how ongoing service delivery will be managed. The system requires continuing product planning to address new functional needs and technology changes, which may occur as some system components may no longer be supported over time.

Most public sector agencies already have some experience with purchasing software. Still, with a framework as comprehensive as an e-GP system, it can be worthwhile considering the issues of implementation and continuous operation, from contracting with third-party vendors and supporting e-bid submission to collecting information in the system and capacity building.

Several primary considerations will form part of the system design and procedures, including:

(i)- Issues Related to Contracting 

Long-term planning is very significant when negotiating with external service providers. A government will usually plans a 3- or 5-year contract with a service provider when planning the delivery of a business service over 20 years. The government must consider the risks associated with using a third-party service, particularly regarding data security and business continuity. These risks can be mitigated through the contractual arrangement with the service provider, ensuring the government’s rights and ongoing business requirements are adequately addressed.

Regardless of the model followed for system administration, data ownership should always remain with the government. This is necessary to ensure the sanctity of the procurement data and the ongoing operation of the system in the event of significant failure by the provider. The possession of the data is the most critical concern because the technology continuously changes and evolves, yet the data will stay the same. In cases where the system administration is outsourced to a service provider, sound security systems need to be in place to ensure that the database administrator does not have “read/write/modify” access to sensitive data.

The original contract should contain a well-documented transition plan to ensure that the government will have the option to acquire the system and software at the end of the contract. It should also extend the service portion of the contract or simplify a contract renewal to reduce the cost of a complete procurement procedure for a new service. If the government plans to re-tender the e-GP system, the tendering process needs to ensure that there will be adequate time to plan and conduct the bidding process, as well as to give the incumbent time to put a new system in place before the contract expires. The contract should also incorporate clauses to facilitate the transition, including the handover of all data to the new system and removing any data such as backups or archives from the old system once the new one is operational. 

During initial contract negotiations, governments should establish parameters for terminating or renewing any service contract. The main issue is ensuring all ownership and rights to any data created by or collected on behalf of the government, including suppliers’ registration, remains the government's propertyso that information can be transferred to any other system in the future without dispute. Governments should ensure they retain the rights to any system design, database structure, and workflows developed or implemented on their behalf so that any such information may be used in developing any new system in the future. 

The most critical and often overlooked issue is an investment that governments must make to set up and own the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) used to direct traffic to the system. This way, if they change systems in the future, they can easily redirect traffic from the e-GP portal to the new system. The URL is the least expensive but most valuable asset of the e-GP system.

(ii)-Scalability 

Careful thought has to be given to how an e-GP system may grow over the years. If the e-GP platform is developed as a centralized system for multiple government agencies, it should be designed to support various agencies. This means that departments with huge purchasing budgets, such as transportation, may want to bid from many thousands of suppliers ranging from chain stores to manufacturing plants, as well as to smaller, more service-oriented agencies who may be more involved with complex, service-related tenders. Supplier participation may grow rapidly, and although, at the start, the tendency will be toward a system meeting immediate needs and is within the available budget, it can be essential to select a procurement software platform that can handle a higher volume of users and transactions in the future.

(iii)-Flexibility and Customization

An e-GP platform should have the flexibility to accommodate process variations on additional functional components with minimal effort and for a reasonable price. The system should allow the addition of new government departments by way of simple configurations and still satisfactorily meet the process or workflow requirements of the added departments.

(iv)-Data Considerations

The e-GP system can have many components, all supporting a fully integrated procurement and procurement tracking process to improve the old manual system. However, the critical element in the system will be its content, provided by the procuring agencies conducting the tenders. All other system components can be considered addons that make the system more efficient.

The data collected by the system is the most valuable asset, and the government must ensure that access to this data is appropriately controlled and protected. The data is equally relevant whether the government or a third party manages the operation. A government needs to ensure that access to any data by the personnel involved in the system's operation and management is necessary for supporting and operating the system and not for individual benefit. Some of the critical risks to be considered include the following: 

 

  1. Data aggregation. Data aggregation from individual transactions can provide more data and affect national security. 
  2. Data privacy. The system may collect private information on individuals or corporations, which needs to be protected. 
  3. Confidentiality. Commercially sensitive information will be collected during a bid process, which could be sold. Access must be limited to only those users authorized to access it following the bid opening time. 
  4. Commercial gain. Pricing, product, volumes, and customer data may be sold elsewhere for commercial gain. 
  5. Data integrity. The government must ensure that data cannot be changed or altered in the system and therefore become subject to commercial fraud. 
  6. Data access and separation of duties. Access and data rights in the system must be strictly controlled, and no user (including technical support staff) should be able to perform all of the steps to set up a supplier and authorize payment. 
  7. Fraudulent suppliers. Bogus and fake suppliers in a system can be an issue when supporting a bid process and managing payments. The registration process needs to have proper verification and validation processes to ensure the accuracy and validity of the suppliers registered in the system. 
 
(V)-Special Requirements

When implementing e-GP, special requirements must be taken into account, such as multiple languages, many small suppliers, and direct links to a manufacturing facility’s ERP system, which may be costly if they are not part of the functionality of the core software modules and may need to be built into the system at a later time.

(vi)- The Implementation History of the Provider

Authorities need to consider the capabilities of the provider of the e-GP software platform they select. The types of questions that must be asked as second nature as part of the tender process and are just as applicable to the purchase of a strategic electronic public procurement framework include the following: 

 

Do their size and market presence assure good support and service?

Are they well-established and financially stable?

Have they had a history of success with similar government—or comparable private sector—implementations?

 

Three e-GP Readiness Self-Assessment

One of the essential elements of any e-government program is electronic government procurement (e-GP). E-GP can significantly increase public procurement's efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency and improve other government objectives. Electronic Government Procurement (e-GP) Readiness Assessment assists an authority in conducting a high-level review of its procurement environment to determine its level of readiness to make a transition to e-GP sustainably. It will help to decide the degree to which the components and their subcomponents underlay e-GP are in place. Conducting a contemporary evaluation is generally one of the key preliminary steps for growing an implementation plan for e-GP. The Assessment addresses the managerial and technical components that underlie the e-GP environment and adopts a procurement reform approach. A detailed readiness assessment is a good starting point as it will identify gaps in existing processes that need to be addressed and will also indicate which e-GP implementation model is best suited to a particular country’s circumstances. Readiness is defined as the ability of an entity to deliver and operate a specific feature to deliver an expected value. A readiness assessment should focus on evaluating the current readiness of an entity, not its future readiness. 

The essential elements of e-GP

The Valuation addresses the strategic foundations of e-GP by inspecting the constituents that are the foundation for planning the move to e-GP. The fundamental e-GP components are those subjects that, when addressed and integrated, offer an authority with a framework for an effective, efficient, and sustainable approach to e-GP. They have been developed from research and experience with a range of existing procurement environments in different countries.

The six strategic foundations (including evaluation) for the successful development of e-GP are:

 

  1. Institutional Capacity: is the capacity for government to set directions and lead and resource the changes required, and can be used for Readiness Assessment of the integral leadership of the government with human resources specialized in e-GP. Component 1 & 2. 
  2. Governance: is putting the rules, management support, performance monitoring and evaluation to support e-GP in place, and can be used for Readiness Assessment of the Integral policy of e-GP, norms and regulations integrated, consistent, and adapted to the new procedures. Component 3.4, & 5. 
  3. Business Functionality and Standards: sustainable infrastructure, support services, and common standards are developed to ensure accessible, integrated, and consistent procurement services can be put in place and can be used for Readiness 

 

Assessment of the standardization and simplification of tools and procedures, Specialized functionalities, and organizations for tendering, contract management and, purchasing. Component 6, & 7. 

 

  1. Third-party Integration: is ensuring the private sector is enabled to participate and be involved in e-GP and can be used for Readiness Assessment of the cooperation between central government, local governments, and private sector; participation and active monitoring of the citizens, training. Component 8. 
  2. Application of Technology: is appropriate, integrated, sustainable, and adaptable technology is phased in to provide tendering, contract management, and purchasing Services and can be used for Readiness Assessment of the massive connectivity and computer science applications standardized and accessible to all. Component 9. 
  3. Evaluation: online monitoring and integral control.

 

Summary of the Readiness Assessment Methodology 

Questionnaires Surveys Are Qualitative Data Collection Methods used to collect data from a predefined group of respondents to gather information and insights on various topics of interest. The research data collection for the Readiness Assessment is through Questionnaires and Checklists, using the Nine Components of the Underlying e-GP and the related subcomponents involved to collect information that will assist with the Readiness Assessment task. The Nine fundamental components of e-GP are: 

 

  • Component 1: Government Leadership- (vision, sponsorship, resources, stakeholder support, and implementation support) 
  • Component 2: Human Resource Management- (education, skills development, Expertise, and career development). 
  • Component 3: Planning and Management- (strategic planning and re-engineering of management protocols and processes) 
  • Component 4: Policy- (setting intent and guidelines that can be consistently applied). 
  • Component 5: Legislation & Regulation- (supporting rules and the external and internal monitoring of the efficiency, performance, and compliance with the total approach to e-GP). 
  • Component 6: Infrastructure & Web Services- (ensuring reasonable access to and quality of e-services and their sustainable development and maintenance). 
  • Component 7: Standards- (development of management, procurement, and technical standards to ensure consistency of the approach to e-GP and interoperability across the systems involved). 
  • Component 8: Private Sector Integration- (suppliers are enabled and have incentives to participate in e-GP). 
  • Component 9: Systems (Current e-GP Initiatives)- (the planning, selection, development, implementation, and support of e-procurement systems to provide tendering, contract management, and purchasing services). 

 

Usually, a four-point Likert scale can be set out for rating and Scoring the “Generic Levels of 

Readiness for All e-GP Components” as shown in Table 1 below: 

Table 1- Generic Levels Of Readiness For All e-GP Components 

Level of Readiness 

Description of Existing Procurement Situation 

1- None 

No evidence that the component is in place and no evidence it is supported. 

2- Small degree 

Little evidence that the component is in place and little or no evidence it is supported 

3- Some degree 

Some evidence that the component is in place and some evidence it is supported. 

4- Adequate degree 

Adequate evidence that the component is in place and adequate evidence it is supported. 

Source - e-GP Readiness Assessment - The World Bank 

 

The subcomponents within each component can also be assessed using the same readiness levels as in Table 1. The readiness level is evaluated by the status of the prepared and supported subcomponents.

The level of readiness is expressed in two parts. The first part looks at the degree to which the substance of the subcomponent is in place. For example, are the procurement guidelines accessible to the public and suppliers? The response might be that there is some evidence that partial guidelines exist (i.e., Level 3). But, they may not have been well supported in that they are poorly distributed, have not been revised for many years, and are available for a fee on request (i.e., Level 2). Altogether, the readiness level will be Level 2 in this component. The readiness levels of assigned sub-components within a component may vary from level 1 to 3. Thus, the overall level of readiness allocated to a component may involve an “average” and assessment, according to Table 1. However, the level of preparation at the subcomponent level will guide the development of the plans. 

The Assessment should be addressed by a wide range of respondents from government, business, and community stakeholders in the government procurement environment. This would include senior managers of government agencies, public, and private sector procurement and IT managers, representatives of professional procurement associations, representatives of key business sectors involved in government procurement, consumer groups, and representatives of education and training institutions. This will offer a realistic view and display where there are significant differences in perceptions. As any single respondent is unlikely to have an in-depth understanding of all the components, participants with various views should confirm all areas are covered. It should be remembered that the above stakeholders will ultimately play a role in the planning and implementation of e-GP. 

The Four essential dimensions of the E-Government Environment 

The emergence of the Internet and developments in the processing and storage of data are technological issues. Nevertheless, e-government challenges are not principally technical. eGovernment undertakings are incorporated into the existing administrative environment. This indicates that e-government activities can only be effectively implemented if administrations are competent and ready to do so. Accordingly, the success of e-government initiatives depends in part on the ability of public administration, as well as the political will of key stakeholders. While the government and the administrative units play a crucial role, the e-government environment is also shaped by other stakeholders, comprising citizens, businesses, civil servants, local, national, and international institutions, and civil society organizations. However, the e-government environment can be structured differently, according to different aspects. But, the four essential dimensions of the e-government environment are (1) Infrastructure, (2) policy, (3) governance, and (4) outreach.

Assessing the E-Government Environment 

This framework considers quantitative and qualitative indicators for analyzing the e-government environment. The three different types of indicators that their specification can distinguishfor e-government readiness are (1) indicators and indices on overall features of a state, economy or society; (2) general e-readiness indicators, defining how different sectors of an economy, or society are positioned to make use of ICT; and (3) fundamental e-government readiness indicators, which target the thematic narrower aspect of government using ICTs. 

The e-Government Readiness Quick-check Tool 

In the area of e-Government, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), through its 

Telecommunication Development bureau ITU-D is developing an e-Government Application Toolkit for deploying e-Government services in developing countries. The Toolkit, to be developed in several modules, will examine the critical dimensions of the e-government environment to assist decision-makers in categorizing priority areas for action based on their level of readiness and national development strategies. The first module of the Toolkit is on the eGovernment Readiness Assessment Framework. The e-Government Readiness Assessment Framework aims to determine the condition of e-government in developing countries; compare it to the status of e-government in other economies, and identify priority areas for further action. 

The “e-Government Quick-check Tool” characterizes the status of the e-government environment in single countries and country groups using as proxy data on five appropriate indicators and indices: (1) Laws relating to ICT (2) Average access and Use; (3) Web 

Measure Index; (4) ICT skills; and (5) Worldwide governance indicators.

Accordingly, to illustrate the “e-Government Readiness Assessment Framework Quick-check Tool,” the author reviewed and compared the performance of four randomly selected African countries (Uganda, Ethiopia, Ghana & Gambia) based on the five indices and indicators included in the Quick-check Tool. Figure 1 illustrates a country’s readiness status on the five indices and indicators: policy, Infrastructure, outreach supply, outreach demand, and Governance. The results are summarized in Table 2 below:

Note: the comparison table is based on the 2008 ITU report “Electronic Government for

Developing Countries”. Just for illustration purposes. 

Table 2- readiness status of the four randomly selected African countries 

 

Indices 

indicators 

four randomly selected African countries 

Mean 

(Africa) 

Uganda 

Ethiopia 

Ghana 

Gambia 

Policy 

Laws relating to 

ICT(world Economic forum 2008

2.7 

2.8 

3.6 

2.98 

Infrastructure 

Average access and Use ( ITU 2007

1.75 

1.43 

2.38 

1.6 

1.87 

outreach 

supply 

Web Measure 

Index(UNDESA 

2008) 

0.27 

0.17 

0.29 

0.17 

0.15 

outreach 

demand 

ICT skills(ITU 2007

3.26 

2.69 

4.46 

3.03 

3.56 

Governance 

Worldwide governance indicators(World 

Bank 2008

42.65 

37.44 

54.98 

26.07 

20.58 

 

Source: - Author’s review based on ITU’s “e-Government Quick-check Tool” 

 

So, the result of the readiness assessment of four randomly selected African countries is the following: 

The Readiness assessment with respect to the “Laws relating to ICTGambia is ranked first (3.6), Ethiopia is fourth (2.7), and the mean value is 2.98

Readiness assessment with respect to the “Average access and UseGhana is ranked 

first (2.38), Ethiopia is fourth (1.43), and the mean value is 1.87

Readiness assessment with respect to the “Web Measure IndexGhana is ranked first (0.29), Ethiopia and Gambia score on the list (0.17), and the mean value is 0.15

Readiness assessment with respect to the “ICT skillsGhana is ranked first (4.46), Ethiopia is fourth (2.69), and the mean value is 3.56; and 

Readiness assessment with respect to the “Worldwide governance indicatorsGhana is ranked first (54.98), Gambia is fourth (26.07), and the mean value is 20.58

Figure 1- a graphical illustration of a randomly selected African country’s readiness status on

 


 

Source: - ITU “e-Government Quick-check Tool” 

 

4 -Electronic Government Procurement Implementation 

 The avenue to a successful implementation of e-GP is not through implementing of an IT system alone but through a procurement reform program that improves the overall government objectives of transparency, governance, efficiency, and business development. E-GP is one part of an overall procurement operation and should take into consideration the legislative framework, rules and regulations, policies, and oversight that will govern its operation as a business service. Practically, the implementation of e-GP entails the deployment at a countrywide level of web applications that secure and enhance the performance and transparency of public procurement from Tender planning to contract management and including purchase orders. 

An effective e-GP implementation strategy consists of five strategic objectives. These are: Governance, Institutional Capacity, Functionality and Infrastructure, Interoperability, and Adoption, and A comprehensive implementation strategy should address all of these objectives. 

It is impossible to provide a single model strategy suitable for all governments at varying e-GP adoption and implementation stages. However, the most comprehensive option possible and the indicative action plan template assume that no e-GP-associated projects had been applied, and authorities are simply beginning this journey as outlined below. Steps that have already been completed in a particular national context should be removed from the suggested template to work out a more tailored action plan aligned with a specific national e-GP strategy. An outline of objectives, stages and actions that are deemed necessary for a full e-GP project implementation is shown in Table 3 below: 

 

Table 3- Stages of Strategic Action Realization 

 

 

Strategic Objective 

Stage 1 

Stage 2 

Stage 3 

Governance 

The 1st stage for this strategic objective is the modernization of the national public procurement law, which explicitly foresees the use of electronic means. The use of advanced tools that can't be supported through paper-based means, such as electronic auctions and digital catalogs, ought to be defined. 

The 2nd stage for this strategic objective is delineating policies and standards that must be defined in operational detail for the practical application of e- GP in the public sector. 

Interpretation and elaboration of the legal text must be defined sothere are no misconceptions about how public procurement must be performed. 

The final stage for this strategic objective is the definition of e-

Procurement system-specific rules and best practices can take full advantage of the technology for the benefit of all parties. In addition, standardized documents should be defined to alleviate the need for custom implementation by each CA. 

Institutional Capacity 

The 1st stage for this strategic objective is the establishment of the leading institutions that will drive the e-GP implementation forward, as foreseen by modernized public procurement law. In many countries, modernizing the law may not necessarily imply the establishment of new leading institutions, in which case this stage is skipped. 

The 2nd stage for this strategic objective is the appropriate staffing and training of the leading institutions to build an adequate expert base. Staffing should ideally include expert personnel of several different disciplines, including public administration, law, procurement, accounting, ICT, etc. 

The final stage for this strategic objective is the appropriate training of the whole public sector. Training should be dual: on one side, trainees must be fully educated on the new public procurement laws, rules, and regulations, and on the other side, they must become familiar 

with the specific technology employed to support their business through electronic means. 

Strategic Objective 

Stage 1 

Stage 2 

Stage 3 

Functionality & Infrastructure 

The 1stt stage for this strategic objective is the inception of the scope of the e-Procurement system, followed by the definition of overall system requirements (functional, nonfunctional, infrastructure). A market analysis exercise should also be performed to define optimum tendering conditions for selecting the best possible vendor and solution. 

The 2nd stage for this strategic objective is implementing a “basic” e-Procurement system. This phase should aim to provide core functionality for all users, first, to achieve some of the envisaged benefits, and second, to introduce users to the necessary discipline for working in an eProcurement environment. 

The final stage for this strategic objective is implementing the “advanced” eProcurement system. This phase should aim 

at the deployment of a full- 

fledged e-Procurement system, also leveraging integration capabilities with external systems. 

Interoperability 

The 1st stage for this strategic objective is the scoping of system integrations. An eProcurement system can potentially be integrated into several different systems. Hence analysis is required to define both the scoping and the planning for such integrations. 

The 2nd stage for this strategic objective is the implementation of “core integrations,” i.e., the types of integrations that are either imposed bylaws/rules/policies or can form “quick wins” regarding the full automation scope of the overall system. 

The final stage for this strategic objective is the implementation of “advanced 

integrations,” i.e., the types of integrations that are considered helpful but are either complex to achieve or depend on eProcurement system functionalities contained in the 

“advanced” package. 

Adoption 

The 1st stage for this strategic objective is the definition of a detailed 

“adoption strategy” that clearly defines all actions on promotion, training, support, etc., along with timings, responsible parties, stakeholders/audience, etc. 

The 2nd stage for this strategic objective is implementing the adoption strategy in a controlled “pilot” environment. Initial 

steps on full-scale marketing/promotion should ideally also be performed at this stage. 

The final stage for this strategic objective is the full-scale deployment of the adoption strategy, aiming to enroll the entire user base in the e-Procurement system implementation. 

 

Source - e-Procurement Preparation-Rapid-Procurement Toolkit- World Bank 

 

It is important to note that although the above action plan presents an outline of objectives, stages, and actions deemed necessary for full e-GP project implementation, it needs to be elaborated on and customized per case basis. In addition, once Stage 3 of a strategic objective is met, it can't be considered that no additional evolution is necessary; instead, non-stop development should be a common goal. An action plan should include certain details on organizational structures supporting such evolution. 

Phased Implementation 

The e-Procurement system comprises of several modules, some of which are primary elements that users interact with (such as e-Tendering, e-Evaluation/e-Awarding, and e-Purchasing). In contrast others offer supporting functionality to the primary modules (such as e-Registration, vendor management, search facility, and monitoring and reporting). Executing all of these components is an essential duty and defining their different requirements can take a substantial amount of time. Even where these have already been developed as part of an existing product, they still require some customization to suit the operating environment where they will be deployed. 

An e-Procurement system can be represent a combination of process phases and functional components. Ideally, the functional coverage of a complete e-GP system should include the following three areas/components: 

 

1.1. The Pre-Awarding phase/Components include Procurement Planning, Notification, e-Tendering, and e-Evaluation /e-Awarding. 

1.2. The Post-Awarding Components, which include: Contract Management, e-Catalogs, Catalogue Management, and e-Purchasing 

1.3. The supporting features/Components include: e—Registration, Vendor Management, Search, Procurement Monitoring and Reporting, e-Complaints, e-Signature, and Integrity Filters; 

 

The three implementation types or methods 

The three implementation types for e-GP solutions are: 

 

  • Custom software designates solutions that have been developed specifically for the needs of a given organization and that are not packaged for resale. 
  • COTS (Commercial-Off-The-Shelf) refers to software acquired from a software developer or open-source that is used as-is or with configuration or that can be tailored with a layer of specific code layered on top of it. 
  • SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) refers to software that is provided as a shared service made available over the web and that can be used as-is or with the addition of configuration without any specific coding. 

 

Information System (IS) implementation phases 

There are generally three different phases of software implementation: 

 

  1. The Design phase. This is the phase where the e-GP developer or system integrator, where applicable, focuses on the functionality desired by the client. The design phase is usually based on the specifications provided by the public procuring body during the procurement phase, combined with practical and technical workshops with project managers and end-users. In this phase, user roles are defined, user profile permissions designed accordingly, and the workflows are documented. Subsequently, the software developer or system integrator defines an implementation strategy with the necessary resources for the build phase, project planning, testing organization, etc. The design phase takes place at the beginning of the project and requires the participation of all the various stakeholders.
  2. The Build phase. This is the stage where the e-GP developer or system integrator creates the solution based on the requirements recognized during the design phase. 

 

This phase is divided the development of the following stages (i.e., configuration/customization), testing, and software deployment. Well-designed configuration and code significantly reduce the number of test runs and maintenance-related problems. 

 

  1. The Run phase. This phase includes the end users' adoption of the e-GP system and the support and maintenance activities. Once the system is deployed, there is still much work related to the maintenance of the software. First, there may be corrections to apply. In addition, all end-users must be trained and regularly supported when encountering bugs or misunderstanding a feature. With a wider spread in the use of the software will come the need for new functionalities. Effective implementation will therefore involve significant business process changes within the organization.

 

Monitoring and evaluation of the Implementation

The achievement of e-GP ought to be evaluated in contrast to the initially anticipated benefits rather than the implementation status of the required technology. Ongoing monitoring and evaluation, with some needed adjustments along the way, are necessary to ensure that the benefits are realized. As the system evolves and provides more functionality to users, the monitoring environment also needs to evolve to measure additional indicators relevant to the new operations being implemented. 

The monitoring plan should include the overall e-GP objectives of transparency, efficiency, and business development. Deviations from the desired results will alert management to where corrective actions need to be taken, either by adjusting system functionalities to remove bottlenecks or providing additional support and training to users to speed up adoption. 

Monitoring of the implementation can be achieved through the use of fit-for-purpose e-

Procurement indicators. 

The World Bank has developed a set of procurement indicators that can be used to monitor the implementation of electronic government procurement or e-GP. More information on the elaborated indicators can be obtained from this document (available in the WB’s e-Procurement Toolkit). 

Discussion 

The literature and books referred to prepare this research paper have recognized that E-Government procurement (e-GP) promotes higher governance in public procurement by improving transparency and reducing possibilities for fraud and corruption. Implementing ICT to procurement procedures has led to e-Procurement platforms are ideally suited to deal with the e-GP objectives. Tracking and e-Procurement system implementation is an effective way to improve public procurement management, via the automation of all essential processes. 

The paper also clarified the benefits of an e-Procurement system implementation as an effective approach to improving public procurement management, through the automation of all underlying processes. 

The paper consists of five major parts, including the introduction, attempting to discuss and explain key issues related to the concept of e-Government Procurement (e-GP) and assess why and how an e-GP framework should be pursued. The Four Dimensions of the e-Government Environment, Key objectives and benefits of the e-GP project, Reform strategy for an e-GP implementation, the strategic foundations for the development of e-GP, Readiness, Self-Assessment, and the road to a successful e-GP implementation are also discussed. 

Moreover, the author assessed and ranked the performance of four randomly selected African countries (Uganda, Ethiopia, Ghana & Gambia) based on the five chosen indicators, and Ghana is ranked first in the four indicators (Average access and Use, Web Measure Index, ICT skills, and Worldwide governance indicators), and Gambia is ranked first concerning the 

“Laws relating to ICT.” 

Conclusion

In conclusion, e-Procurement, when configured effectively, streamlines all aspects of the procurement process, end-to-end, from procurement planning to contract management, payment, asset tracking, and depreciation. Moreover, the implementation of e-Procurement automates the internal and external processes associated with the procurement process, including supplier selection. One of the most crucial advantages is that it is well-suited forming long-term supply agreements and including these items in standardized procurement catalogs. However, an e-Procurement system does not automate all features of the procurement process. Procurement and project professionals will continue managing procurement, designing contracts, developing procurement plans and contracting strategies, and evaluating criteria and specifications. Using an e-Procurement system can free up procurement professionals’ time to focus on these values added procurement stages. Moreover, the achievement of e-GP should be assessed in contrast to the initially anticipated benefits rather than the implementation status of the required technology. Monitoring of the implementation can be achieved through the use of fit-for-purpose e-Procurement indicators. The monitoring plan should include overall e-GP objectives of transparency, efficiency, and business development. Deviations from the desired outcomes will alert management to where corrective actions need to be taken, either by adjusting system functionalities to remove bottlenecks or providing additional support and training to users to speed up adoption. 

 

Author: Kifle S. Sima

 

References 

2021, E-Procurement Implementation Type Report. Washington, DC: World Bank. 

e-Procurement (e-GP) reference Guide-World Bank 

Handbook, P. e-Government Procurement Handbook. 

Islamic Development Bank (2018), Guidance Note on the use of e‐Procurement in Islamic 

Development Bank Financed Procurements; 

Mohammed, R. (2017). E-Government Procurement: Enabling Business through Efficient 

Systems. 

PACIFICCOUNCILONINTER, N. (2002). Roadmap for E-government in the Developing 

World. 

Panda, P., & Sahu, G. P. (2011). E-procurement implementation: Comparative study of governments of Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. IUP Journal of Supply Chain 

Management, 8(2), 34-67. 

Shakya, R. K. (2015). Good governance in public procurement: An evaluation of the role of an e-procurement system (Doctoral dissertation, Capella University). 

UNCITRAL Secretariat. (2014). News from the United Nations Commission on International 

Trade Law (UNCITRAL)– UNCITRAL Model Law on Public Procurement. 

Wu Chebili, B., La Cascia, H., Collineau, F., Salomon, A., Calvet, B., & Moreau, Y. (2022). 

Electronic Government Procurement Implementation Types. 

 

 

MBA

Vyberte si program studia


Studovat MBA

 

DBA

Vyberte si obor specializace DBA:

 

MSc

Vyberte si obor specializace MSc:

 

Ph.D.

Vyberte si obor specializace Ph.D.: