As of late government has explored various avenues in an attempt to simplify and streamline the procurement process, as there has been well founded critique directed towards the procurement process in South Africa. We have had our fair share of tender fraud, and unethical practices where it concerns government tender bids, evident of this has been the 30 billion rand which was lost to corruption within the public sector for the financial year 2013-2014.
To highlight these avenues which government has employed to streamline the procurement process, specific reference can be made to the implementation of the E-Tender Publication portal, as well as the Central Supplier Database (hereinafter referred to as the CSD) which is regulated by the National Treasury.
The rationale behind the E-Tender Publication portal is to centralize the procurement process, providing a one stop destination for the publication of tender notices which are then accessible to the public, and once perfected, this will result in tender advertisements which historically had to be published in Newspapers and the Government Gazette to become a memory of an archaic past.
Government has as mentioned also created and implemented the CSD, which seeks to be the primary source of consolidated and comprehensive supplier information for all various spheres of government whether national, provincial or local. The implementation of the CSD negates the necessity for suppliers to register separately with different government entities as suppliers will now be required to only register with the CSD. The effect that this has is that it minimizes the risk that the information received from suppliers are duplicated or falsified, as the fact that suppliers were previously required to register independently with the separate government entities, left the door open for discrepancies to creep in due to the plethora of registrations which were received. The primary focus of the CSD will be that once a supplier is registered it will facilitate the verification of the information supplied by the supplier, as the CSD is in tandem with the South African Revenue Services, as well as the Company and Intellectual Property Commission, and can therefore verify aspects such as tax clearance, company registration and BBBEEE status, which verifications will then be made accessible to all government entities alike. The effect of the aforesaid is that it has reduced the administration which was previously required when registering as a supplier for more than one government entity, and as a consequence thereof time and costs has been saved. Furthermore all suppliers who were previous separately registered on different government databases would have by now been automatically merged onto the CSD.
The CSD has as from the 1st of April 2016 been utilized by the different spheres of government engaged in the tender process, as from such date, government has been prohibited from awarding any bids to a supplier which is firstly not registered on the CSD and furthermore not verified on the CSD. Municipalities have now implemented usage of the CSD in totality as from the 1st of July 2016, and other government entities have followed suite.
These mechanisms are an indication of government’s efforts to make the procurement process, transparent, ethical, cost effective and efficient. One may further note that these mechanisms will bode well for our carbon footprint as we will be diverging from the usage of hard copy products, if the virtual realm can suffice. The implementation of the E-Tender Publication Portal and CSD is a step in the direction towards bringing uniformity to the Governmental Supply Chain Management System and aligning the processes fully with our technological era.