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, among other things, data collection, audit trail, and awarding of contracts. The eProcurement system will result in cost savings on the public expenditure and also result in value for money through the procurement of goods, works and service.
eProcurement is a key step in the movement toward an enhanced National Integrated Financial Management Information system that will markedly improve the government’s capacity to manage and allocate public funds and is thus closely align with the Public Financial Management and Performance Monitoring Reform Project.
The public procurement act
The Public Procurement Act (2021) establishes best practices to effectively govern procurement from the perspective of all government agencies. The Act makes reference to the establishment of a Procurement Department, Central Purchasing Unit, Procurement Modalities, and a Procurement Review Tribunal. It is worth noting that suppliers or vendors with a desire to participate in the public procurement opportunities, must be registered via the e-procurement platform, gobonfire platform.
Public procurement department
The Procurement Department as stipulated in the Public Procurement Act 2021, will assume supervision for all public procurement in the country. Its mandate will also encompass managing the electronic procurement system. As for Central Purchasing, at this juncture, this activity is within the ambit of the Procurement Department, however, considering the supervision of procurement policies must be separated from purchasing of goods, works and services, it is likely, in the near future, that the Ministry of Finance will have oversight for Central Purchasing.
Under the Procurement Department, procurement will become a profession in The Bahamas with a dedicated career path, training skills and standardized guidelines that are implemented across the public sector. It is expected that the mandate of the Procurement Department, inter alia, will result in expanded economic involvement of Bahamian businesses in procurement, greater savings for the Bahamian people and a more effective public procurement system.