Botswana’s Benevolent Move to Enhance its Procurement Profession
Chitambala John Sikazwe, Sr. Procurement Specialist
The Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) of Botswana was established by an Act of parliament in July 2002 with the primary mandate of adjudicating and awarding tenders, advising procuring entities on procurement and asset disposal matters, and monitoring compliance with the Act. The Act, however, underscored the responsibility of the PPADB to gradually devolve its authority to the Ministerial Tender Committees (MTCs), District Administration Tender Committees (DATCs) and any other procuring or disposal entities. In 2013, the PPADB formulated its five-year Strategic Plan with the intent to see the organization gradually transforming into a regulatory authority by 2018.
In 2014, the PPADB significantly increased the thresholds of the MTCs and DATCs, aiming to focus more on its responsibilities which include prescribing standards, training, capacity building, compliance and performance monitoring. However, this shift in the PPADB role encountered with the challenges like lack of capacity in terms of procurement competency and knowledge, non-availability of a support structure in terms of procurement units, no clear scheme of service and job profiles for the procurement cadre.
Over the past several years, the Government of Botswana (GoB) emphasized on the need to strengthen procurement performance in the country and made budgetary allocations to strengthen the procurement profession to improve public service delivery and improve lives of its citizens. The World Bank has since been a partner in the GoB's endeavor to enhance professionalism in the execution of the public procurement process. The first step in this direction was the adoption of a "Scheme of Service" to align the functions of the Procurement and Supply Chain Management cadre with those mandated to the Procurement Unit in each Ministry or Government Department as per the Public Procurement Act, and to elevate the status and visibility of the Procurement and Supply Chain Management functions as a key professional discipline at the civil service corporate management levels. The country's procurement regulatory authority (PPADB) took the procurement professionalization initiatives one step further by developing training materials to implement sustainable public procurement.
A "Code of Ethics" in Public Procurement for procurement practitioners, Public Entities, and Control and Oversight agencies engaged in Public Procurement has recently been adopted with ''Detailed Guidance''. The Code of Ethics provides for the granting of immunities to procurement practitioners in the conduct of their duties if any errors or omissions were committed in good faith. It also provides for the obligation to report acts of perceived impropriety or corruption in the conduct of public procurement operations in line with the PPADB's Whistleblowing Policy.
The World Bank has supported the development of a Procurement Professional Certification Scheme to raise the bar for the procurement profession in Botswana based on a Competency Framework that will guide the recruitment and career advancement of Procurement Practitioners. The Certification Scheme is a competency-based four-level certification process (Associate Practitioner, Practitioner, Senior Practitioner and Chief Practitioner levels) based on the degree of mastering Public Procurement related skills and knowledge areas as demonstrated through rigorous testing of the respective practitioner's competencies and as prescribed in the Competency Framework for each of the four levels of the Certification Scheme. While the Certification Scheme will be introduced by PPADB by June 2018 with immediate effect on voluntary basis, its adoption will become universal across all Government entities by 2021. This is in line with Government's objective to improve project implementation by strengthening professionalism in the practice of Public Procurement across all Procuring Entities through certification based on sufficient acquisition of knowledge, skills and experience.