A Recipe for Transformational Change
The global pandemic has highlighted the role of 'government working online' and digital public services in times of crisis. In particular, public procurement from mundane government function has become a life or death topic, as in many countries shortages of personal protective equipment for public healthcare workers, COVID-19 tests and ventilators in hospitals have hampered the response to the pandemic. Web-based electronic public procurement systems from luxury items have become essentials for governments all over the world.
In May 2020 edition of the EBRD Legal Transition Programme's journal – 'Law in Transition' Caroline Nicholas, UNCITRAL and Eliza Niewiadomska, EBRD discuss how electronic public procurement (eProcurement) can help governments transform the way in which the public sector works. Regulators are rethinking regulatory frameworks for public procurement with new digital technologies in mind. The aim is not only to move public procurement process to the online web-based communication (eProcurement), but to embrace emerging digital technologies, including an interoperable data exchange and automation (digital procurement) to make it simpler for businesses to participate and for the public sector to manage.
The shift towards smart, sustainable and inclusive digital public procurement systems is a complex task requiring holistic reform at all levels of the public sector. Political limitations and inner resistance to change often prevent digital transformation from happening. Fortunately, some outward-thinking governments are open to innovation. New 'planning to payment' public procurement platforms go all-digital with machine-readable data and are becoming increasingly automated. This not only brings significant transactional efficiencies, but it also ensures by default compliance with public procurement rules. Interestingly, all some of this happens in the emerging economies, where EBRD and UNCITRAL focus on fostering digital innovation.
We help to legislate for new technologies
To enable governments harvest the benefits of digital public procurement, the EBRD-UNCITRAL Public Procurement Initiative revisited 'Are you ready for eProcurement?', EBRD, December 2015 and has developed a hypothesis how to facilitate uptake of digital public procurement to benefit quality of public services.
At the level of policy and regulation, the EBRD-UNCITRAL Public Procurement Initiative explored an idea of principle-based,practice-oriented public procurement law. By employing the UNCITRAL Model law, simplicity, clarity, and transparency as well as standardisation important for cross-border trade become the guiding principles of modern and digitally-enabled public procurement regulation.
Digital economy is global and digital public procurement has to follow. This highlights the value of international public procurement policy standards for procurement methods, procurement data and market access. No automation can be done without standardised business process in procurement, from advertising all the way to public contract execution. We translated policy standards of UNCITRAL Model Law into a language of business process modellers - Business Process Modelling Notation (BPMNs). Legal requirements were formulated in detailed descriptions of individual processes, to speed up digitalisation and enables the functional, uniform execution of procurement processes in digital systems.
Last, but not least, prototyping new rules and tools for public procurement led to rediscovery of the value of open data for digitalisation. New global open data standard for public procurement, Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) ensures that data is accessible, searchable, and comparable, thus guaranteeing data accuracy and fostering end-user trust. When incorporated in the electronic public procurement system, it governs the degree of transparency the procurement process is transparent and ensures openness to collaboration with business and civil society and genuine feedback from all stakeholders. This allows for an effective use of public procurement data, and ultimately, data-driven innovation that increases transparency, accountability and enables data-driven public procurement decision-making by governments.
This webinar aims to introduce a new concept for successful digital transformation of public procurement. Developed by the EBRD UNCITRAL Public Procurement Initiative, it has been designed and tested to address:
- The meaning of public procurement in the digital economy
- How to apply Open Government principles for citizen-focused digital public services
- Vendor lock-in, interoperability, and change management challenges faced by governments investing in digital tools