January 24, 2019 | 8:30 a.m.
To our representatives from the different National Government Agencies and Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations, good morning and welcome to the first ever Procurement Forum.
Yes, you heard that right. In its 16 years of existence, this is the first time the GPPB has organized a forum of this kind. Our goal for this forum is simple: to demystify procurement so that everyone here may see it as an ally, not the enemy.
We also want to make sure that the link between procurement and budgeting is clear. Hence, it was decided that this would be conducted alongside our annual budget forum. This way, budgeting people are made aware of the importance of procurement planning in budgeting and vice versa.
The GPPB Technical Support Office, the main organizers of this forum, is now focusing more on procurement management, not just the bidding process or rules. This relates to how we prepare agencies to manage procurement by emphasising the importance of procurement planning, teach them tools on preparing technical specifications, and how to provide an accurate and reliable cost estimate. Learning procurement in its practical sense will help all of you here plan better and make the entire government more responsive.
As you know my advocacy for procurement reform started during the final years of the late Mrs. Aquino’s presidency. In fact, I remember we went to Canada on a mission and I was hugely impressed by their procurement systems. So when I got back, I sent a team from DBM to Canada. Then of course I left my post when President Ramos took over.
When I came back to serve President Estrada, I asked what happened to our procurement reform initiative then? They told me “wala, nothing”. Procurement reform was set aside during President Ramos’ term. So when I served as Budget Secretary under President Estrada, what I did was I hired a World Bank Consultant -- Ed Campos. Ed and I worked together to produce an Executive Order to be issued by the President. We settled on that at the time because legislation was very difficult.
That EO became the basis for the GPRA or the Government Procurement Reform Act passed during the first year of Mrs. Arroyo. This should have been a great success. Finally, we had a procurement law.
Unfortunately, however, the law was not implemented properly. It did not blossom to its full potential. Things remained business as usual.
This is a huge shame because the Procurement Law was supposed to be, at that time, according to World Bank, ADB, USAID, one of the best in the world. That was our Procurement Law, GPRA. But as I said it did not blossom. We let it stagnate.
The Procurement Service did not develop into an efficient, professional institution. Instead, the PS became a parking space for soon-to-expire supplies and materials budgets. We do not do that anymore.
At the same time, PhilGEPS, that is the electronic part of the procurement reform, did not keep up with the advances in technology. It also stagnated. It became outmoded and congested.
That was pretty much the state of affairs when we took over in July 2016. But we have done a lot of reforms since then. Allow me to share with you our progress and successes so far on the procurement front alone.
As you know, the Procurement Service has taken up the procurement activities for non-common goods, consulting services, and, most notably, big-ticket infrastructure projects of the government. his is a function the PS performs on top of the procurement of Common Use Supplies and Equipment (CSE) for the entire bureaucracy.
As a result, last year alone, a total of 463 procurement items for both common use supplies and equipment and non-common use supplies and equipment consisting of specialized goods, consulting services and infrastructure projects were completed by PS, amounting to PHP 198.80 billion with a government savings of around PHP 18.25 billion.
The Procurement Service is also continually improving the government’s online procurement system. Last year, a better government electronic procurement portal, the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System or PhilGEPS Version 1.5, which incorporated a more advanced operating system, was launched.
Meanwhile, the Government Procurement Policy Board, together with the United States Agency for International Development-Facilitating Public Investments Program (USAID-FPI), in their aim to improve the capacity of procurement practitioners, held trainings across the country and introduced agency user manuals for the use of the PhilGEPS Virtual Store.
Finally, we continue to encourage agencies to undertake early procurement activities (EPA) for ongoing and regular programs and projects, even as we continue to operate under a reenacted budget. Guidelines for which are provided in Circular 09-2018 issued by the GPPB December 20 of last year.
We continue to push the possibilities for procurement through this first ever Procurement Forum. I hope you make the most of this crucial learning opportunity by listening well and raising relevant questions.
Again, procurement is your friend, not an enemy. It is a powerful tool which we can use to provide the Filipino people better, more efficient and more responsive government services and programs.
Thank you and I hope you have a productive forum.