The World Bank’s Global Indicators Group & Development Data Group, in partnership with the Open Learning Campus (OLC), has developed a series of e-learning courses for professionals, policymakers, and users of open data. Each course in the series is designed for a distinct group of learners. The courses provide technical skills, extensive examples and illustrative case studies, with an emphasis on open data in developing countries.
Open Data is the idea that some data should be publicly available and usable, and this idea has engendered a growing movement that attempts to remove technical and legal barriers to the use of public data and realize that data’s potential social and economic benefits. Open data initiatives have been gaining ground, and over 500 Open Data catalogs are now in operation around the globe. However, many organizations, including in government, may be unfamiliar with open data and its impacts, or lack the knowledge to design and implement open data programs effectively. This is often especially true in developing countries, where capacity can be low and access to the latest learning resources is often limited.
The 2016 E-Procurement forum was organized by the World Bank and co-hosted by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. It was conceived as a follow-up event to the 2015 E-Procurement forum. The e-Procurement Indicators defined during the 2015 e-Procurement Forum were utilized to measure e-GP performance in Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Italy, Kyrgyz Republic, Macedonia, Moldova, and Tajikistan. Furthermore, Moldova used a subset of the indicators to measure its performance on transparency for the whole year of 2015 and the first six months of 2016. Based on the results, significant improvement was observed.
The Forum was aimed at providing an opportunity to countries to exchange their latest practices in the field, mainly focused around five key discussion points:
The Forum was equally successful, and was attended by 25 countries and 7 organizations.
The forum’s relevant documentation can be found at:
Organized by the World Bank and co-sponsored by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the “E-Procurement Forum: Enhancing Public Spending” was conceived to facilitate the sharing of country experiences in public procurement performance measurement. It also aimed to develop and agree on a common set of performance indicators and to take action to set a baseline for all countries against the agreed indicators and their annual updates. The Forum gathered 84 participants from 36 countries and eight development organizations, far exceeding expectations.
The Forum provided a great opportunity to address the needs of both internal and external clients. It constituted a major achievement in implementing the Bank’s E-Procurement Strategy for the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) Region and in mainstreaming E-Procurement as a form of transformational engagement within the Global Governance Practice. In this context, the Forum had a strong impact on the development of follow-up business opportunities for the Bank to assist ECA client countries in areas such as E-Procurement, open contracting, data analytics, and citizen engagement. For example, the Forum resulted in an ongoing discussion of multiple activities regarding E-Procurement assistance and Reimbursable Advisory Services in countries across the region, including the Balkans, Central Asia, and European Union (EU) member states.
The Forum agenda also fit within the Bank’s broader goals of good governance enhancement and increased prosperity, which call for the more sustainable management of public resources, including those delivered through current public procurement systems. A positive shift from a strictly legal compliance-oriented approach to a more performance-driven model is taking place in many countries worldwide, as public procurement policy makers and practitioners come to the conclusion that compliance per se, without pursuing better performance levels, does not serve the ultimate goal of providing the best service to citizens.
The organic approach to identifying and agreeing on a set of practical transparency and performance indicators is an excellent example of how capacity-building was achieved. A two-step methodology was put in place to obtain each participant’s views on the list of priority indicators. First, each panel moderator identified five or six indicators—based on the presentations delivered and the dialogue with peer panelists—that they considered the most relevant for beginning the measurement/collection process in the short term and grouped them under one of four categories. Second, all discussion groups were invited to examine the list of indicators (the sum of the inputs collected from the moderators of the six sessions) and select two indicators per category. No country- or organization-based representation mechanisms were used in this process and random seating allowed for an intermingling of participants in terms of countries and/or affiliation, ensuring that the results reflected the individual opinions of every roundtable participant.
The forum’s proceedings, presentations, and all relevant documentation can be found at: http://www.worldbank.org/en/events/2015/10/20/e-procurement-forum-enhancing-public-spending.
The World Bank e-Procurement Tools
The Rapid e-Procurement Toolkit provides guidance to clients to better understand their needs and requirements. In the past, implementing e-Procurement solutions has been resource intensive, time consuming and costly. By streamlining the e-Procurement process with the introduction of a dedicated website, countries can benefit from a more economical and efficient approach to enhancing transparency and accountability in public spending. The toolkit also leverages the lessons learned from previous e-Procurement implementations in the region. Furthermore, it incorporates the best practices in the market place and answers typical e-Procurement questions.
The Rapid e-Procurement Toolkit website provides two core sections:
E-Procurement Preparation: Understanding the concept of e-Government Procurement (e-GP) and evaluating why and how to pursue the establishment of an e-GP framework. This document includes what are the benefits that e-GP implementation projects can offer and what are the actions that need to be planned in order to layout the way forward.
E-Procurement modules (14 modules in total, such as “Catalogues Management”)
The Rapid E-Procurement Toolkit is accessible at:
E-Government procurement (e-GP) projects are often part of the wider e-Government efforts of countries to efficiently and effectively serve their citizens and businesses. E-GP promotes better governance in public procurement by increasing transparency and eliminating opportunities for fraud and corruption. The application of ICT to procurement processes has resulted in e-Procurement platforms that are ideally suited to address the e-GP objectives.
Pursuing an e-Procurement system implementation is an effective way to improve public procurement management, through the automation of all underlying processes. Many governments worldwide have adopted end-to-end e-Procurement systems which cover the full procurement cycle.
The e-Procurement Online Learning course is composed of five modules, aiming to assist its audience to better understand electronic procurement and provide guidance on decisions that need to be taken for establishing or improving e-GP national frameworks.
The course initially focuses on how organizations can establish a plan for an e-GP implementation, and what benefits can be expected by such an implementation project. Furthermore, it provides an overview of the basic and advanced features and modules of e-Procurement systems, along with concise information on how to implement each of the described e-Procurement modules.
Additionally, the course briefly describes e-Procurement indicators and presents how these can be used by governments in order to measure adoption, performance and overall governance. Lastly, it focuses on how to incorporate procurement and e-Procurement into Financial Management Information System (FMIS) implementations in the context of Public Financial Management (PFM) reform projects.
At the end of this course, a certification can be obtained by those participants who complete the course and successfully pass the respective examination.
The five modules are:
A sixth module relates to the exam questions leading to the e-Procurement Champion certificate.
The E-Procurement Online Learning course is accessible at:
After defining reverse auctions, the key is also to provide clear steps in the procedure so such process can be used at its best efficiency. As such, although each state has particularities in their reverse auction legal systems, six common steps can be observed in the different regulations.
First of all, most regulations require a certain form of procurement planning where the use of reverse auctions must be determined in advance by the public body and the latter set forth in writing that it is in its best interest. Such requirement can notably be found in Virginia, Connecticut and Utah.
Second, the State agency must publish the solicitation – also called “notice,” “invitation to bid” or “invitation for bids” in the different regulations. Some states such as Ohio require that such notice be given to persons producing or dealing with the goods and an Alabama agency must notify all Alabama persons, firms or corporations who have filled a request in writing that they be listed for solicitation on bids for the particular items set forth in the request. As to the support of publicity, some states chose a paper publication while others favor electronic publication. The time of the publication varies from state to state; Colorado requires the solicitation to be published fourteen days before reverse auction date and Kentucky requires a minimum of seven days. As to the content of the solicitation, most regulations require the mention of an opening and closing time. Some regulations are very vague about the content like Iowa that require “Bid Information” to be contained in the solicitation. On the contrary, some regulations like Ohio’s require at a minimum that the solicitation contains seven precise information such as precise instructions on the qualification, submission of auctions, questions and answers, detailed specification on the product being purchased etc. The amount of information contained in the regulation is critical for bidders and suppliers to fully understand the reverse auction system. In addition to that, the information contained in the solicitation permits prevention against corruption as stated by article 9 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption. One of the requirements of the Convention is to prepare and distribute sufficient information relating to procurement procedures. Thus, greater transparency ensues less risk of corruption in a reverse auction process.
The third major common step in most regulations is the assessment of qualification of contractors, such as California or South Carolina. As such, Ohio defines “qualification summary” to include “documents required to be submitted by the bidder in order to determine responsibility.” Utah requires the vendor to agree to“(a) the specifications, and contractual terms and conditions, of the procurement; and (b) be trained in, and abide by, the procedure that the division or the procurement unit with independent procurement authority will follow in conducting the reverse auction.” Sometimes, such step is so crucial that it must happen before the publication of notice of procurement like in South Dakota. The prequalification step is essential in a reverse auction because most of States will award the contract to the lowest bidder. As stated previously, prequalification serves as a tool to assess the technical acceptability of the offer.
Fourth, after the solicitation publication but before the opening of reverse auctions, some states allow questions and answers like Ohio, clarifications like South Dakota and even a pre-bid conference in Utah. For instance, the regulation of Ohio states “bidders shall submit questions electronically through the state's designated web site. Responses to questions shall be posted on the web site in a timely manner. As such, such step seems necessary since it can render the procedure more effective for the comprehension of the procurement requirements as well as ensuring transparency.
Fifth, as to the heart of the procedure, reverse auctions are conducted online as mentioned before. Some states allow that the procedure be conducted by a third party such as Nebraska, North Carolina or Connecticut. In such case, the state agency “contract with a third party to prepare and manage any such reverse auction.” On that record, outsourcing a procedure always bears certain risks. As to ethics issues, just like outsourcing the drafting of specifications, giving the private sector the task to manage the reverse auction process can be a source of conflict of interest, which is “where an entity plays two or more roles that are, in some sense, at odds with one another.” There can also be inefficency issues such as in the federal level. Federal agencies rely principally on “FedBid”, a third party contractor that runs and manages the reverse auctions of the agencies. Relying on “FedBid” does not always benefit the government since a fee is required to use FedBid but agencies sometimes won’t conduct multiple bidding rounds which leads to the same result as a traditional sealed bidding but including an additional fee.
After the companies send their initial bids electronically, most states regulations require Bidders to allow their price below the lowest bid posted on the Internet or bid down their prices such as South Carolina and California, and vendor must update their bids on a real time basis. In such process, States require Bidder’s prices to be revealed but not their identity, the bidders must remain anonymous such as South Dakota and Indiana. Since pre-qualification is crucial in South Dakota, the regulation adds that if a qualified bidder cannot bid, the auction must be suspended/cancelled and rescheduled. This requirement could be explained by the fact that fake-bidders could be working in collusion and registering to the reverse auction but not participating in order to manipulate the prices. Such fake bidders would act as straw men in order to create an impression that the market price should be higher and that the contract is highly desirable.
Finally, the last step is the award. As such, in most states, the award is made to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder like in Iowa or Virginia, which seems similar at first sight to the traditional sealed bidding. Responsiveness of the bid is important because sometimes the prices are driven so low that they are not realistic anymore. Some states regulations require the award to be made to the responsive and responsible bidder whose bid offers the best value like in Kentucky. Such states chose the same reasoning as the European Union’s directive on Public Procurement which authorizes the assessment of auctions either on the basis of the price or on the basis of both price and technical elements when the assessment must follow a “best value strategy.” Following the award, some states like Ohio and North Carolina require that notice of award be made available to public.
These six simple steps found by harmonizing the different states regulation can serve as an inspiration for improving an existing e-RA system or creating one in order to correct the flaws seen in practice at the Federal level.
More than a decade ago, Bill Gates certainly foresaw the future by saying “The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” Accordingly, a particular kind of electronic procedure used for public purchase of goods and/or services has become one of the major centers of interest. Reverse auctions (“RA”) system raised indeed both curiosity and enthusiasm because of its unique way of proceeding. Unlike a regular auction system like eBay where auctioneers must raise their price in order to acquire a certain good from a seller, in a reverse auction system, the procuring entity that organizes the auction is the buyer and sets an opening price and the companies then compete against each other in order to lower the price of their goods or services, the winner being the bidder who promises to charge the lowest price.
The use of reverse auctions has increased dramatically over the years at both federal and states levels but they are not implemented equally throughout the United States. At the State level, the regulation of reverse auctions is left at the discretion of the States as per the U.S. Constitution. Consequently, several states don’t have a regulation dealing with reverse auctions (around 20 out of 50) but it does not mean that they don’t use reverse auctions in practice (e.g.: Pennsylvania does not have a regulation and saved $7 million by using reverse auctions for electricity in 2000).
At the Federal Level, the use of Reverse Auctions permitted 28.9% savings on the purchase of goods by the Navy. However, there is a clear lack of guidance as the Federal Acquisition Regulation does not address reverse auctions. Such auctions were at first prohibited by the Federal Acquisition Regulation, especially in the field of competitive negotiations, but since the prohibition was erased by a 1997 rewrite of the FAR, nothing further was added about reverse auctions. Moreover, there is no definition of the term “reverse auction” in the FAR although a failed attempt was made in the Defense Authorization Act for FY 2006.
At the State level, reverse auctions are usually well defined such as in Colorado: “Competitive reverse auction means a computer aided bidding process through which a pre-established group of vendors may post bids for a defined period of time and may change their bids as desired during the bid period.” Among the 30 State regulations addressing reverse auctions, there are several common elements of definitions:
i. The use of Internet. Some states have online interactive systems such as « BIDS » in Colorado or « RIVIP » in Rhode Island. The Internet brings many benefits as compared to a traditional physical auction. An online reverse auction is considered cheaper and more efficient since the auctioneers can receive immediate feedback on their bids and it permits international auctioneers to take part to the process since they don’t have to move to the place where the auction takes place. Furthermore, in a traditional auction, bidders face each other while Internet permits the bidders to be anonymous.
ii. What is being procured? Most states use reverse auctions for the purchase of goods and services excluding systematically construction contracts. Some states use RA exclusively for goods in general excluding services. Some states are even more precise by using RA for a certain type of goods: commodities such as printers or office furniture where there is a “low item differentiation” and thus a lower risk on the final product. The exclusion of services can be justified by the fact that services may be more complex to acquire and the preparatory work must be very detailed so that everything is laid out in the invitation for bids. Finally some states allow RA for services but they exclude “professional services” which can be defined for instance as “services provided (…) by a person or business, acting as an independent contractor, qualified by education, experience, and technical ability” (Illinois Procurement Code).
iii. A competition between vendors on a real-time basis;
iv. The bidders prices are disclosed so each bidder can see what their competitors’ prices are;
v. Bidders remain anonymous in order to avoid communication between them and possible fraudulent agreements on prices.
Thus, a harmonized definition can be drawn from these common elements given by the different state regulations.
By Gurcharan Singh and Samia Melham
Governments are always striving to drive up efficiencies and obtain financial savings, particularly in the current global economic climate. The existing public procurement system in Rwanda is decentralized which poses some significant practical challenges to achieving these objectives , e.g., fragmentation of the procurement of common use items across a large number of procuring entities. However, these challenges can be addressed with the implementation of an eProcurement system (e-GP) which will enable the transformation of public procurement itself,, streamline the information sharing among the decentralized procurement entities, and the optimization of the delivery of services to the citizens of Rwanda.
The major objective of this Korea Trust Fund project was to conduct a feasibility study for the implementation of e-Government Procurement (e-GP) for the Government of Rwanda. The study reviewed the Government’s existing legislative and e-GP landscape, and international consultants were awarded a contract by the World Bank to identify issues, analyze current e-GP practices and advice responsible authorities on the best suitable e-GP system. The consultant’s approach for this task was aligned with the definition of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) provided by the Multi-lateral Development Bank Expert Group on Electronic Government Procurement.
Impact of the Project
Public procurement in Rwanda is about US$0.8 billion a year. It plays a critical role in effective public expenditure management. Introducing e-procurement would increase efficiency in addition to transparency and compliance. The feasibility study found that Rwanda could start the implementation of a comprehensive e-GP reform following the allocation of the necessary funding. There is now very strong support from both the Minister of Youth and ICT and the Minister of Finance to move this urgently into implementation and there are some significant benefits in undertaking the e-GP project in parallel with the Government’s ongoing Information Financial Management System (IFMIS) rationalization.
The study also noted that Rwanda’s biggest challenges are capacity building for such a system both in terms of human resources and technology infrastructure, e.g., last mile connectivity. A piloted phased roll-out by all the procuring agencies, state and local – as well as private sector will have to be carefully planned and form a huge part of the change management strategy.
On the technology infrastructure front, the e-GP project will need to be aligned with the current on-going ‘last mile’ initiative. It will also need to employ and reuse innovative platforms or strategies such as business support centers, kiosks, k-lab, eRwanda ICT buses, e-learning tools and involve key stakeholders such as the ICT Chamber of the PSF.
Key Outputs and/or Outcomes
The study reviewed the Government of Rwanda’s existing legislative and e-GP landscape and the international consultants were tasked to deliver 7 separate reports focused on i) design of a nationwide e-GP system, ii) cost estimate of the proposed new system, iii) development of a time-bound roadmap for e-GP implementation of recommended approach, iv) capacity building for Rwanda’s Public Procurement Authority (RPPA) and private sector suppliers, v) feasibility of a PPP approach, vi) Overview of best practices, and vii) an analysis of current e-GP practices as followed currently by the RPPA.
This grant activity has also led to an e-procurement sub-component under the Public Sector Governance Program-for-Results project currently under preparation for Rwanda. Korea Tel-Com has been invited by the Government to submit both technical and financial proposals to implement a solution based on Korean e-procurement.