Feature Stories



Pushing boundaries in procurement framework implementation

“Pushing boundaries in procurement framework implementation”
An Interview with Joao N. Veiga Malta,
Practice Manager, Latin America and Caribbean’s Region
World Bank’s Procurement Framework (PF) was launched in June 2016, to modernize the procurement policy and maximize the strategic role of procurement in achieving key goals in development effectiveness.
In Latin America and the Caribbean (LCR), the Bank’s procurement policy affects a portfolio of about $21.77 billion (U.S. dollars) in commitments to support 221 projects in 2,725 locations across 29 countries. It has been one year since the New Procurement Framework was launched. To understand the impact and future challenges of its implementation, we spoke to Practice Manager Joao N. Veiga Malta.
How was the process of inception of the Procurement Framework in LCR?
It was smooth for several reasons... During the development of the new policy, we used many experiences and lessons learned from past LCR projects. For this reason, many aspects of the new framework fit well with the region and respond to clients’ needs. Internally, it was key to discuss in advance with the team what this innovative approach meant, and when the policy came into force, we already had had some time to adapt. This minimized the fear of change, which is common in such situations.
Another important factor was the training process we designed to ensure an effective rollout of the new rules and procedures. The LCR team implemented a five-phase training plan, targeted to each audience that would be affected by the policy rollout: headquarters’ staff, country offices, high-level government officials, and Borrowers. The objective was to prepare the teams to be ready to mitigate risks during project implementation, and for Borrowers to be able to maximize efficiency and innovation using the Policy. The sessions for Borrowers, for example, delivered in a 3-day training course, resulted in 450 officials trained for all new and existing projects in LCR.
Since the implementation of the training program, the team has seen increased ownership of the procurement process on the part of Borrowers, because they believe the new framework provides them the tools to meet their procurement challenges more immediately. We have also noticed enhanced confidence on the part of Borrowers, who are exploring the flexibilities that are offered in the Procurement Framework.
The introduction of the PF has also provided a changed, more positive relationship between the Bank and its Borrowers, as the Bank has extended its approach from checking compliance to also building procurement capacity.
What attributes of the Procurement Framework would you highlight?
I believe the PF ensures greater value for public spending while enabling adaptation to country contexts that face different realities in urban and rural areas. There is a need to find the right procurement instrument for the right activity. To this end, the PF offers a combination of multiple methods and market approach options to identify fit-for-purpose alternatives and streamline procurement solutions.
In addition to this, the planning and tracking tool that has been implemented with the policy, allows all the parties involved in procurement processes, including Task Team Leaders and country authorities, to count on real-time access to relevant information and data. This is a key element to take informed decisions.
Do you have examples at this early stage?
It is indeed very early in the process, but some projects have already used features from the PF in a successful way. I would highlight three examples:
In an Urban Transport project, the Borrower could proceed with negotiations after the bid evaluation and that resulted in a significant reduction in the final cost of the contract. The negotiated contract was signed on time, and the final cost was within the original estimated budget for that activity.  
In the Public Health Care, we faced several obstacles in the public bidding process to buy off-road ambulances, which are extremely complex items to be procured. After two public bidding processes that did not generate positive results, and an extensive market research, the client, with the support of the Bank team, could carry out a negotiated process. Almost two hundred off-road ambulances are now being delivered to the client.  
In another project, the Borrower prepared a Project Procurement Strategy for Development, describing how procurement in this operation will support the development objectives and deliver value for money under a risk-based approach. Based on the new framework, we helped the client identify activities, capacity, and markets, tailoring the procurement processes to the market capacity. It incorporates framework agreements for procuring medical equipment, improving health centers and delivering latrines, for example.
What do you expect in the future for procurement within LCR?
I believe we need to continue pushing boundaries and finding solutions to help our clients. We can’t declare victory too quickly. The new framework is giving us an opportunity to adapt, improve, and deliver better services. Complacency is dangerous in policy implementation, so we need to continue pursuing innovation. And innovation happens when you have a committed team. The real credit to the positive implementation of the New Procurement Framework in LCR projects is due to the team of specialists who embraced change, took chances from the very beginning of the implementation, and that put a lot of effort in training clients for them to be on board as the implementation started.