By Roderick T. dela Cruz
Government agencies have yet to comply with a law passed in 2003 that required them to publish contract awards on the Internet.
“Since the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System was first implemented in 2006, compliance with the publication of procurement notices has been high, but the requirement to publish contract awards as well has still to be fully complied with,” the Asian Development Bank said in a technical report.
The bank has recently approved a $600,000 technical assistance grant to help finance the strengthening of the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System.
“End users also need regular training. Despite having unlimited access to the system. not all government agencies use it,” the report added.
In January 2003, Congress passed Republic Act No. 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act, which replaced more than 100 laws, rules, and regulations on government procurement.
The law provided for the modernization, standardization, and regulation of the procurement activities of the government. It was designed to streamline the Philippine procurement system and reduce opportunities for graft and corruption, harmonize the system with international standards and practices and promote transparency, competitiveness, streamlined procurement, accountability and public monitoring.
A recent review of the pilot use of the system for official development assistance projects found that agencies register and post notices more to comply with the implementing rules and regulations of the law, rather than to use the system in their procurement.
“Published bid notices sometimes provide insufficient information and instructions to prospective suppliers about the items being procured, or insufficient online access to the bid documents,” the report said.
The ADB also noted that while the system was designed to provide information about procurement opportunities and contract awards, it did not cover bidding and had no payment facility.
“Thus, the current functionality falls short of addressing the efficiency and economy objectives of public procurement,” it said.
The president of ADB approved the provision of technical assistance amounting to $600,000 to improve the system. The technical assistance will cost $800,000, of which the remaining $200,000 will be shouldered by the Philippine government.