Procurement 'boring' and problematic

    Devex readers chime in about cleaning up many procurement systems, saying that it is important that reform should take place to root out issues like absence of professionalization and lack of vendor diversity that plague procurement. Photo by: World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

    Procurement is essential in any development project — yet it’s also among the least professionalized activities in government, thus posing risks of corruption and inefficient use of resources.

    “It’s ignored, it is generally considered not sexy and boring, and it’s often underfunded,” said Jean-Marie Meyer, senior director of program procurement policy at the Millennium Challenge Corp, as quoted in a report by Devex staff writer Paul Stephens.

    But it’s not just the absence of professionalization that plagues procurement, as our readers note.

    For one, often there’s a lack of diversity among vendors, according to Juliana Oyegun.

    “On the plus side, access by economic minorities like women to procurement spend would be a real wealth builder,” said Oyegun. “Reform should include meaningful steps to enable supply chain equity, more supplier diversity.”

    Daisy Lepon suggests that developing countries review their entire public procurement system to strengthen its effectiveness, transparency and linkages within government systems at all levels. This, she explained, would prevent budget overruns, unforeseen delays, poor disbursement rates and legal actions.

    Regardless of the procurement system used, law enforcement presents a major challenge, especially during the bid evaluation process, pointed out Wouter Sahanaya.

    “Have read somewhere that procurement is simply a big word used for saying this: Acquiring goods and services for the best possible cost and at the best possible time to benefit others. Benefit vendors, contractors sometimes owners where corruption will bloom,” he wrote.

    What do you think? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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    About the author

    • Eliza Villarino

      Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.

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