In 2014, The Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas (GOTB), through the process of Strengthening Public Procurement System through Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Participation ICT4GP Program (ANT/ME 11074-RG), received a grant from the Inter-American Development Bank for the creation and adoption of an electronic registry of suppliers and MSMEs to increase competitive participation in public procurement systems throughout the region.
It was through this initiative that the GOTB has embarked on a mission to modernize the Government’s procurement systems to be more aligned to regional and international standards. The implementation of an Integrated Electronic Procurement (eProcurement) and Supplier Registry Solution is, therefore, a critical factor in accomplishing this initiative.
The eProcurement and Suppliers Registry system (ePSR) will facilitate standardized procurement processes including data collection, monitoring, and maintenance. The eProcurement system will result in cost savings on the public expenditure and also result in value for money through the procurement of goods and service.
eProcurement is a key step in the movement toward a National Integrated Financial Management Information system that will markedly improve the government’s capacity to manage and allocate public funds and is thus closely aligned with the Public Financial Management and Performance Monitoring Reform Project.
THE PUBLIC PROCUREMENT ACT
The Public Procurement Act contains the regulations that govern the eProcurement system, establish the Public Procurement Department and the Procurement Review Tribunal. The Act is currently in draft form and is projected to be enacted in 2018. Once the legislation has been passed, transformative changes to Public Procurement processes will be enacted. With the passing of the Procurement Act, all businesses that wish to participate in Government Procurement will need to be registered on the ePSR website, as all government tenders will be executed through the online platform.
PUBLIC PROCUREMENT DEPARTMENT
The Procurement Department will be the lead agency for Procurement in the country and will ensure that centralized procurement occurs in a standard manner in line with international best practice. It will have the mandate to manage the electronic procurement system.
Through the eProcurement system, the department will identify suppliers in the Bahamas and develop relationships with them to ensure optimal supplier relationship management.
Under the Procurement Department, procurement will become a profession in the Bahamas with a dedicated career path, training skills and guidelines standardized and implemented across the public sector. It is expected that the mandate of the Procurement Department will result in expanded economic involvement of Bahamian businesses in procurement, greater savings for the Bahamian people and a more effective public procurement system.