A new legislation that is heading to the House of Assembly in the near future is expected to remedy the numerous procurement issues that have been identified within the public service, specifically in regards to construction related projects.
Details about the issues and mention of the legislation that is in the pipeline was made during the opening ceremony for the CDB Procurement Workshop for contractors and suppliers recently chaired by Dr. Drexel Glasgow, Director of Projects in the Ministry of Finance.
While noting that the Bill will be heading to the House, Dr. Glasgow said: “In the near future government will be implementing a new procurement Act.” He said that the new Bill is necessary because what defines procurement in Territory’s current legislation is inadequate and vague.
The Director of Projects in the Ministry of Finance explained that an assessment was carried out of the Territory’s procurement systems in 2014 as a result of concerns about the cruise pier project. He said later another assessment was done, and that study identified 12 major weaknesses in the BVI’s procurement systems.
Dr. Glasgow said the study found an absence of a comprehensive legal framework. Therefore, he stated that the new standalone procurement legislation will outline how procurement will be carried out.
One of the issues the study found related to contract waiving. In noting that concern Glasgow said: “We tend to waive the tender process a lot, not that it is always a bad thing. What was key in the assessment is that there were no standard rules or guidelines that tell us when we can or when we should waive the process.”
The findings revealed that there were no rules for participation in the procurement methods. Additionally, there were no rules that stipulate what should be done for various projects: “The study showed issues with advertising and the time limits, not that tender documents don’t include these but as an overarching regulation there is nothing in our law or regulation that speaks to this. We had weaknesses with tender submissions, omissions and responsiveness and evaluation,” Dr. Glasgow noted.
He also noted that the study found that there is an absence of model documents, according to Dr. Glasgow a good procurement system has model tender documents that are available online.