Issues on corruption continue to rage on in development discourse. It has been described as the bane of developing countries and a canker that has the potential to erode all the gains of development if not checked. However, one of the best antidotes widely prescribed is the establishment of the principles of good governance one of which is “Transparency”.
According to Transparency International, Transparency is a principle that allows those affected by administrative decisions, business transactions or charitable/aid work to know not only the basic facts and figures but also the mechanisms and processes involved. Indeed, its importance in governance and in every organization is further echoed by Prof. Robert Klitgaard who believes that corruption is a crime of calculation that flourishes in a system of governance where there is a high degree of monopoly and discretion with a low demand for accountability and transparency. Hence his famous corruption formula: Corruption = Authority+Monopoly-Transparency.
To shed the light of transparency on public procurement activities, the Public Procurement Authority in Ghana is in the process of adopting e-government procurement. Presently, all procurement plans of government institutions are uploaded on a web-based Procurement Planning System and later populated on its website as information on General Opportunities for the consumption of Contractors, Consultants and Suppliers. Tender Notices for respective procurements are also published on the website of the Authority to encourage publicity and enhance competition in the processes. After Tender Openings and Evaluations are done, information of the contract awards are subsequently placed on the sight with details of the contract sum and the winner of the tender or bid for all to access for further analysis and monitoring.
As the nation-Ghana eagerly awaits the full scale implementation of the e-government procurement, Civil Society organisations, Service Providers, Professionals, Development Agencies and other stakeholders believe that such an electronic system will allow for electronic tendering and even reverse auction, reduce human interfaces and discretion, enable the digitalization of procurement process, and provide a single window system that would inject professionalization of procurement and consistency in the process for effective monitoring and audit purposes.
For now, with the support of the Government of Ghana and the World Bank, plans are far advanced to hire an Applications Service Provider (ASP) to set up the e-procurement platform for work to commence. It is therefore our hope that Ghana’s eventual migration from manual to electronic procurement will stem the tides of the raging perception of corruption in procurement and restore higher investor confidence in the country systems for growth and development.