Gov­ern­ment ten­der­ing made ‘eas­ier, more ac­ces­si­ble with­out weak­en­ing ac­count­abil­ity’

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

The pub­lic pro­cure­ment sys­tem is be­ing made eas­ier to use and opened to a larger mar­ket, the head of the pub­lic ser­vice said yes­ter­day.

Mario Cu­ta­jar told jour­nal­ists that the process had been sim­pli­fied with­out af­fect­ing ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency. He also said that a points sys­tem could be in­tro­duced in the ten­der award­ing process, and this would com­ple­ment a shift in men­tal­ity where the cheap­est ten­der was not au­to­mat­i­cally the win­ner.

The Prin­ci­pal Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary said gov­ern­ment ten­der­ing was now open to more peo­ple af­ter cer­tain ex­pe­ri­ence and qual­i­fi­ca­tion re­quire­ments were re­moved for ten­ders not ex­ceed­ing cer­tain amounts. Bank guar­an­tees were also done away with and the bid bonds were re­duced.

He ex­plained that the MEAT – Most Eco­nom­i­cally Ad­van­ta­geous Ten­der – con­cept was in­creas­ingly be­ing used. “Rather than au­to­mat­i­cally go­ing for the cheap­est price we are look­ing for qual­ity. We want pub­lic ten­ders to give re­sults.”

He also an­nounced that ten­ders un­der the amount of €250,000 will be is­sued and ad­ju­di­cated by min­istries – and the process will be over­seen by a con­troller from the Con­tracts Depart­ment. In such cases, the depart­ment will as­sume the role of reg­u­la­tor, rather than con­troller.

Re­ply­ing to ques­tions by this news­pa­per, Mr Cu­ta­jar said the po­lit­i­cal side of the min­istries – the min­is­ters and their sec­re­tar­iats – will not have any­thing to do with the ten­der­ing process. “It is the ad­min­is­tra­tive part of the min­istry – the Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary – that will be in­volved.” He in­sisted that this de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion process was ac­tu­ally lead­ing to more trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity.

Three min­istries are cur­rently tak­ing part in a pi­lot project and the con­cept will even­tu­ally be ex­tended to all min­istries.

Mr Cu­ta­jar said em­pha­sis was be­ing placed on the ‘ease of do­ing busi­ness.’ New reg­u­la­tions were drawn up to co­or­di­nate in­spec­tions on small busi­nesses. He said some 72,000 in­spec­tions take place ev­ery year and th­ese were prov­ing to be a de­ter­rent. “We want th­ese in­spec­tions to ac­tu­ally help th­ese busi­nesses to im­prove their sit­u­a­tion and to make sure that they are in line with the law.”

He also an­nounced that a leaner ver­sion of the Pub­lic Ser­vice Man­age­ment Code has been pub­lished. “We took away the ir­rel­e­vant bits, and the chap­ters which con­tra­dicted other chap­ters within the same book and came up with a more mod­ern code which is 25% shorter.”

Mr Cu­ta­jar said a bu­reau­cracy-re­duc­ing ex­er­cise has been on­go­ing for the past two years. The pub­lic ser­vice, he said, had taken stock of the rec­om­men­da­tions made by the Na­tional Au­dit Of­fice and had im­ple­mented the nec­es­sary changes. An­other NAO re­port will be pub­lished shortly.

The PPS also an­nounced that mys­tery shop­pers have started do­ing the rounds at gov­ern­ment de­part­ments as from yes­ter­day and the de­part­ments will be rated and told where they should im­prove.

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