South Africa proposes simplified procurement laws

24 November 2011

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24 November 2011 | Angeline Albert

The South African government is considering reforming public procurement procedures, including simplifying purchasing laws.

Proposals developed by the National Planning Commission - an advisory body whose 26 members are appointed by the President to develop a strategic plan for the country – include a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to corruption.

The National Development Plan: Vision for 2030 said public procurement laws have become increasingly complicated over the past decade. “When even honest and competent bureaucrats find it difficult to understand what their legal obligations are and how to comply with them, the law requires simplification,” it said. 

It also suggested considering a tiered system of review for tenders, depending on their value, featuring different safeguards and procedures. Such a system would have built-in security so that tenders worth more than a certain amount are subject to special review by the auditor-general and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts, with a public hearing overseeing the tender award process.

The plan also proposes “giving greater teeth” to the tender compliance monitoring office in the office of the accountant general in the National Treasury, so it can investigate whether tenders are offering value for money.

The proposals also recommend that the details of government procurements should be accessible to the public.

It also claimed ineffective management in the government’s support functions, including in procurement, has led to a reluctance to delegate procurement to managers further down the system.

“It should be clear who has taken a procurement decision and on what grounds,” it said. “Streamlined processes could still maintain checks and balances, while clarifying accountability and making it easier for departments to make decisions.”    

The government is seeking the people’s views on the proposals that were opened to public consultation this week.

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