Procurement reform makes strides

NZICT is playing a pivotal role in driving procurement reform based on industry feedback, says the organisation’s chairperson Brett O’Riley.

He joined the government procurement reform strategy group after NZICT gathered industry feedback in the early stages of a review of the Government Electronic Tenders (Gets) website.

An audit of Gets began last July, as part of the government’s four-year procurement reform agenda.

O’Riley suggests the procurement reform has been unduly focused on cost savings.

“One of the things we have been concerned about is the communication coming out of government to date around procurement, which has been focusing on the cost savings the government is getting from all-of-government procurement. I wanted to give a flavour that NZICT and other members of the reform group believe the reforms are more fundamentally about how we streamline procurement in a smaller country like New Zealand.”

Work to standardise requests for proposal and expressions of interest processes, and complaints procedures, has already been carried out, and NZICT wants to “continue to drive change”, O’Riley says.

The organisation is meeting monthly with the Ministry of Economic Development, the Securities Commission and the Department of Internal Affairs and is “passing on frank feedback” from industry members about the procesurement process, he says.

Transparency in procurement and simplification of Gets are key issues, he believes, adding that tenders must be genuinely competitive processes, not a justification of the existing supply partner. “No-one wants to be a stalking horse,” he says.

NZICT and the procurement reform group are eyeing the panel approach used by some Australian state governments, O’Riley says.

“The opportunities with a panel approach is to be clear about what is expected from companies engaged as suppliers to government. We want to encourage New Zealand companies to be involved in supplying to government, but we want the expectations to be realistic around what it takes to engage in that process.

“People can make informed decisions about whether to bid for business, whether to partner or to form a consortium. In many cases that is not necessarily clear until you get well into the process and find you can not win the business on your own.”