The government has taken steps to increase coverage of electronic government procurement (e-GP) with new features to respond to the Covid-19 challenges to check irregularities in public purchase.
The World Bank (WB) is providing the government with a total of US$95 million to streamline the eGP through digitising the system.
The new features will help promote transparency, accountability, and efficiency in public procurement by enabling multi-stakeholder engagement, said the WB recently.
The Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) of the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) under the Ministry of Planning has been implementing the Digitising Implementation Monitoring and Public Procurement (DIMAPP) Project since July 2017 with support from the Washington-based development partner.
Initially, the WB had provided $55 million for the project in 2017. In February this year, the development partner approved another $40 million to help the government increase the coverage of e-GP challenges, said an official of CPTU.
"The $40 million will help add important features to the e-GP system, including international bidding, direct contracting, framework agreement, electronic contract management and payment, procurement data analytics, geo-tagging and enabling," said the WB.
"Bangladesh has made systematic changes to improve the public procurement environment, including digitising the system. During the general holiday for the Covid-19 pandemic, e-GP played a critical role in continuing development work throughout the country," said WB's Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan Mercy Tembon.
With the WB's help, the government rolled out e-GP in four procuring entities.
In fiscal 2019-20, procurement contracts worth $17.5 billion -- representing about 62 per cent of public procurement expenditure in the country -- were processed through the e-GP system.
During the pandemic, e-GP enabled over 1,300 public organisations to process all procurement activities online following national competitive procurement methods.
To complete the ongoing and new activities, the project has been extended by one and a half years until December 31, 2023.
DIMAPP aims to promote transparency, accountability, and efficiency in public procurement by enabling multi-stakeholder engagement.
To this end, in August 2020, the CPTU launched a citizen portal that allows people access to public procurement data.
Citizens would be able to get updates on different procurement steps in their localities and interact through citizen blogs and social media connected with this portal.
It will enable them to raise their voice and share their observations, according to the government.
The portal also has extensive provision to analyse procurement data and take policy decisions to improve procurement and implementation performance.
Citizens can get information about country-wide procurement of goods, works and services through the portal.
The portal also allows customisation or search function through features as sorting or filtering.
Policymakers, officials of procuring entities, experts, researchers and others will be able to download procurement data following the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) to conduct analysis and research work to understand procurement performance, CPTU officials had said during the launch of the portal.
About 80 per cent of the Annual Development Programme (ADP) and 45 per cent of the total national budget of Bangladesh are spent on public procurement.
Considering the importance of this, the government established the CPTU in 2002 to carry out and oversee reforms to the procurement process. DIMAPP is the latest project undertaken by the government to achieve that goal.
Recently, the DIMAPP has been accorded the World Bank’s Directors Award for Most Innovative, Collaborative and Impactful Governance Global Practice Operations.