Jorge Claro of the International Procurement Institute presented a case study of a procurement assessment of Chile at the 23rd Annual ICGFM Conference. The Country Procurement Assessment Report (CPAR) process began in 2007, but a comedy of errors resulted in bureaucratic delays of a year. Mr. Claro discussed the best time, within the election cycles, to assess procurements.
Mr. Claro described the complicated political setting in Chile. He cautioned that an effective assessment needs to go beyond the procurement personnel to senior members of the government.
The OECD/DAC benchmarking tool is not a perfect methodology, but it has a common vocabulary. Mr. Claro found that country personnel focused on the grading. Donors tell them not to worry about the grading, yet they worry about the grading.
The OECD/DAC methodology is highly participatory, according to Mr. Claro. A good practice is to identity stakeholders, including engaging the press and Transparency International The tool represents a serious investment of time and resources, and the participation of many public officials requires political will. It is not cheap to assess the procurement process.
No one thinks of investments in procurement as investments. They look at it in terms of expenses, even though the investment can have good results.
Mr. Claro is concerned about the message of the procurement assessments to governments.
When systems are perceived as poor, Governments are more amenable to finding problems and identifying solutions Yet, when systems are perceived as adequate, governments prefer not to identify issues and leave the system as-is, as priorities lay elsewhere. Yet, procurement processes can be very much improved to gain efficiencies and value for money. He found that Paraguay was much more interested than Chile to change processing.
The methodology is hard in that items are rated 1, 2 or 3. Consultants found that the real rating should be 1.5 or 2.5, yet there was no facility to articulate this. The political nature has caused frequent drafts of the final report.
Mr. Claro suggests that, although the exercise was successful, opportunities for a more in-depth discussion on present and future issues and further refinement of the system could, perhaps, have been exploited further
Mr. Claro explained that procurement reform in any country is 1)political, 2)political, 3)political