• Date: Apr 2015

In transitioning towards green and sustainable procurement, it is essential that procurers have the knowledge and capacity to make decisions that are environmentally and socially beneficial. Many studies conclude that one of the main challenges in sustainable procurement, especially in the developing countries, is the lack of education and training for procurers. The case is no different in Bhutan. Our research shows that most procurement personnel in Bhutan have a bachelor’s degree but they don’t have adequate professional background or on-job-training on procurement, which is a hindrance for an efficient procurement system in general, let alone for a sustainable one.

Most procurement officers in Bhutan are also required to handle additional administrative, human resource and finance functions. Conversely, many procurement documents including contracts are prepared by the administrative staff with limited knowledge and/or no training on procurement. Although the government has six specific job descriptions for procurement officials - starting from Assistant Procurement Officer to Chief Procurement Officer, they are not fully adhered to.

Bhutan’s Procurement Rules and Regulations (PRR) 2009 (revised in 2014) stipulates the requirement of technical expertise during bid evaluation. In practice, many evaluations in the gewogs (blocks), in particular, are carried out without technical expertise. Due to lack of necessary skills for evaluation, financially lowest bidders are usually awarded the contracts without consideration for quality and other relevant criteria.

Procurement planning, which is the process of deciding what to buy, how, when and from what source, requires procuring agencies to perform tasks such as defining needs, defining technical and other criteria, creating procurement strategy, setting realistic timeline for deliverables, etc. Appropriate staffing and expertise is very important to perform such tasks. In fact, the entire procurement process is a systematic procedure involving more than just procurement officials or tender committee members, which warrants capacity building of public officials at all levels, particularly those who are directly involved in procurement activities.

It is, therefore, important that the Royal Government recognises the potential of public procurement to contribute to green growth and sustainable development, and accordingly groom procurement officers to use procurement as a strategic tool, rather than treating it as a mere administrative function. Beyond “greening” national policies and standard procurement rules, building the knowledge and capacity of those involved in procurement would be imperative for greening procurement. Anticipating this need, the GPP Bhutan project will implement two key activities in the second half of the project aimed at building capacity in green public procurement, namely i) imparting GPP trainings to both public procurers and suppliers and ii) introducing GPP curriculum at the Royal Institute of Management.

 

Photo: First workshop on Life Cycle Thinking in Bhutan (13/04/15). Photo courtesy: Mr. Karma Tshering, NEC, Bhutan.
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