19 October 2006 | Paul Snell
Developing countries are beginning to use e-procurement to help reduce corruption and fraud, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
In a survey of staff working in procurement, governance and IT in 38 countries, it discovered e-procurement is seen as a catalyst for public sector reform and innovation.
Kirsten Ejlskov-Jensen, project co-ordination officer at the UNDP, told SM
there had been a need to research this area because previously almost all studies had focused on the developed world and private sector. She said the results of this survey supported
the UNDP's hypothesis.
"E-procurement in the developed world tends to be driven by a desire for greater efficiencies and cost savings. In the developing world the leading driver is overwhelmingly for increased transparency in the procurement process."
The UNDP's remit includes bringing about reform in developing countries and ensuring that its governments are run without corruption.
Ejlskov-Jensen said procurement is increasingly seen as an area that can contribute to this because good processes create accountability and transparency, helping to stem fraudulent behaviour.
Developing countries are also using e-procurement to show they are spending aid appropriately.
The UNDP conducted the research to learn how it could help improve public procurement capability.
It is now using the results to develop a set of tools that UNDP offices in developing countries can use to create e-procurement strategies.
The toolkit will be an online document containing background information on procurement and e-procurement ideas. It will also include the results from the survey on requirements for and barriers to e-procurement.
The guide will also have a tool to assess the developing country's procurement capacity and a framework for implementing systems. The UNDP hopes it will be on its website by the end of the year.
The European Union and United Nations are to share their experiences of developing and running a transparent administration in a complex organisation and examples of best practice. Annual meetings will be held between the UN deputy secretary general and the vice-president of the EC to swap experiences of administrative reform.