13 October 2009 | Jake Kanter
The Jamaican government is reviewing its procurement procedures in a bid to prevent cost overruns and rule-breaking.
Speaking at an event organised by national newspaper the Jamaica Observer this month, prime minister Bruce Golding said the government wanted to make public purchasing more reliable.
"We are reviewing the procurement procedure, we had a whole team that is looking at it and we need about two more sessions," he said.
Earlier this month, Greg Christie, the head of the Office of the Contractor-General (OCG) - Jamaica's independent, anti-corruption Commission of Parliament - published his annual report on government spending. It said improvement on issues such as corruption was "overshadowed by a number of significant shortcomings, performance deficiencies and systemic weaknesses in the public sector procurement process".
The report revealed poor planning and weak management resulted in cost overruns of J$3.1 billion (£22 million) on 46 public works contracts last year. It also found suppliers are underperforming and transparency and costs are being negatively affected by a lack of contract advertising.
The 586-page review said the government procurement handbook, which covers the national buying rules, is not "entirely coherent" and must simplified to minimise breaches to rules. Areas of non-compliance with procurement rules included "inadequate" tender documents and "incoherent" supplier evaluation criteria.
It added that problems could be avoided if the government gave more consideration to the OCG's advice.
"If the OCG's recommendations over the past two decades were given priority attention and speedily and comprehensively implemented, I dare say that much would have already been gained," Christie said.
At the Jamaica Observer event, Golding said he had sought Christie's advice as he aims to overhaul procurement.