Finding the acupuncture points that would allow governments to buy efficiently and deliver services to citizens in a timely manner (Part III)
By Juan-Pablo Giraldo
The first two posts in this series described the complexity of the public procurement system. Part I explained the political dimension of procurement. Part II set forth some limitations of applying the lens of private practices to public procurement. This entry will deal mostly with the insights that guided the design of a solution devised for the World Bank* over the last year by a team of NYU graduates. (Full disclosure: I am a part of that team).
Insight # 1: better procurement means many things, but all those start with having better contracts. The basics: knowing how to define the problem and specify the solution is critical for success.
Insight # 2: contracts are better drafted in markets where techonological change is slow. Yes, governments have contracted the building of roads and bridges for years now and the basic technology hasn’t changed. Those contracts are, more or less, pro forma by now. It is a greater challenge to define the problem and specify the solution when public agencies need to buy technology intensive products or services— satellites components, chips, medical imaging devices or software. The expertise necessary to describe those products is usually outside of the organizational
Insight # 3: procurement is a world of too many words. Seriously, is a 372 page-long contract necessary to buy a cloud-computing system? I thought people were buying those all the time on Amazon. If you want to let more actors in the world of procurement, so that it actually increases its dynamism and emulates the private market, you need to be able to summarize problems and needs.
Insight # 4: siloed bilateral communication is a fertile ground for opaque practices. In procurement, communication between the government, vendors and citizens has to be transparent. Bilateral and private email chains and phone calls between public agencies and vendors are seen as suspicious by competitors and citizens.
Find the solution in Part IV of this series—coming soon.
*This post is a personal view that in no way represents the official position of the World Bank or NYU