Procurement practitioners should be service-oriented
Procurement Network interviewed Jorge A. Lynch T., an international procurement management consultant with almost three decades of experience. He has worked on assignments with the United Nations and on donor-funded projects in several countries in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Pacific. Jorge writes the Procurement ClassRoom Series and is the author of the Public Procurement and Contract Administration: A Brief Introduction, Public Procurement: Principles, Categories and Methods, and several other eBooks and articles on public procurement, which may be found at http://procurementclassroom.com.
His main interest is to teach public and project procurement management to novice practitioners, to assist them to develop a solid foundation on which to build a successful career as knowledgeable procurement professionals.
What challenges would you highlight as most alarming for procurement profession today?
From a public procurement perspective, reduction in procurement lead-time is a major challenge. It takes too long to award most contracts and this has a direct impact on public services delivery. There is need for more research on how to effectively reduce procurement lead-time in government procurement. Also, procurement methods such as reverse auction and more frequent use of framework agreements, should be implemented without limiting bidders’ participation.
What qualities are absolutely essential for public procurement experts and why?
As public procurement practitioners, we are public servants. This is something that we must not forget. We manage the public procurement process and as such are entrusted with the use of public funds. We must therefore be service oriented and always keep the big picture in mind. Our actions must be guided by the basic principles of public procurement and we need to keep this goal in mind when undertaking our procurement activities. So, I would say that one of the most (if not the most) important qualities of a public procurement practitioner is to be service-oriented.
We witness a glorious march of sustainable procurement practices in some countries and an absolute opposite picture in others. Given we now have ISO20400 Standard for Sustainable Procurement, what do you think is necessary for application of that standard worldwide? I have not had the chance to look into the details of the ISO 20400, but I would say that its worldwide application is dependent on the commitment of governments to its effective implementation.
How important is procurement training for evaluation committees? Training of evaluation committees and briefing them before the evaluation process is very important indeed, because their job is to evaluate bids and proposals in a fair and transparent manner. There is also a need for the procuring entities to oversee the evaluation process, and the presence of technical advisors and observers is recommended.
The practice of naming a chairperson should be discouraged because evaluation committee members should be of equal hierarchy. Having a chairperson gives the impression that they are the ones that decide on the outcome of the evaluation process, when that should not be the case. In fact, each member of the evaluation committee should have an equal weight, and is free to disagree with other committee members. Additionally, the results of the evaluation process should be based on the stipulations of the procurement rules; particularly, to what extent the bids or proposals meet the evaluation criteria stated in the bidding documents.
What would be your recommendation for our junior colleagues who just start a procurement career?
Junior practitioners just starting a procurement career should try to quickly understand the governing procurement rules, and be guided by the basic principles of public procurement, which also set the tone for their code of conduct. Given that the public procurement process is repetitive, they should take careful notes of what they are doing and develop checklists and working procedures to help them avoid overlooking important steps in the process. They should also find a mentor or coach to assist them until they become proficient in the tasks entrusted to them. Most of all, they must be aware that their professional development is their responsibility, and they should strive to continually improve their knowledge of public procurement management.