Photo by Al Ishrak Sunny on Unsplash

Until 2011, the Bangladesh procurement process was paper-based and plagued by corruption and malpractices. The World Bank recommended introducing e-Government Procurement (e-GP) system in 2002. It was implemented in 2011 and has largely eliminated corruption and malpractices previously attributed to the traditional paper-based procurement system. As a result of e-GP’s implementation, Bangladesh has accomplished target 12.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which focuses on advancing public procurement practices.

At present, e-GP is being used by 50 percent of procuring agencies (PAs) and procuring entities (PEs). The time required from tender opening to contract awarding declined from 51 days in 2012 to 29 days in 2015, which has significantly reduced the cost of doing business in Bangladesh. New research by BRAC University, indicates that each and every taka spent towards scaling up e-GP, generates benefits worth Tk 755 as a result of increased competition and transparency in public procurement.

At the current 50 percent usage level, e-GP is generating a phenomenal Tk 400 of benefit for each taka that has been spent so far, which can be almost doubled if e-GP is scaled up across the government.

A World Bank project—Digitising Implementation Monitoring and Public Procurement or DIMAPP—was introduced in 2017 to increase the usage of e-GP which will be deployed in 23 large government organisations. DIMAPP also aims to enhance citizen engagement in monitoring the quality of procured goods and services under the e-GP.  The government is also poised to implement the e-Contract Management System (e-CMS) as a monitoring mechanism for post-awarding contractual activities and responsibilities. Prioritizing implementation of e-CMS would ensure bidders are using quality inputs and delivering tendered outputs on time.

Research confirms that e-GP can do huge amounts of social and economic good by promoting good governance. It is important that the government implements e-CMS and enhances e-GP’s scope to include large-scale projects as key priorities under the eighth Five-Year Plan which will drive the economy beyond Vision 2021.