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Barbados is getting a “new” Procurement Department as Government moves to shake-up the way taxpayers’ money is used to purchase millions of dollars in items annually.

The new agency will succeed the long-standing Central Purchasing Department, which, Barbados TODAY learnt, was now in the middle of major renovations at its offices and warehouse at Fontabelle, St. Michael scheduled to be completed by the end of the current financial.

It was also confirmed that a series of legislative changes related to state purchasing, including a new Procurement Bill and a related technical note, had been submitted to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel’s office for “review” after being approved by Cabinet’s Governance Committee.

These developments come four years after Government began a partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank for a project to modernise the island’s procurement system.

The aim is to improve the effectiveness of the way Government purchased items, and “saving money through competitive prices and reducing process time, while ensuring the transparency and integrity of the system”.

Sources said that just last month an official update on the initiative released by the Ministry of Finance reported progress in some areas, but also indicated there were a number of additional steps to be taken.

A copy of that three-page document said Cabinet had agreed to a number of things, including changing the Central Purchasing Department to the Government Procurement Department.

“To date, Cabinet has agreed that the Central Purchasing Department be re-designated the Government Procurement Department. The new department will adopt modern technologies for procurement and up-to-date practices as it shifts away from the warehousing function currently used,” the report stated.

“It will also adopt the latest information technologies available, as it seeks to professionalise the management and monitoring of public procurement as required worldwide.

In July 2012, the Ministry of Transport and Works began renovation of the warehouse at the Central Purchasing Department and work has been continuing at a steady pace,” it added.

Another part of the process included introducing a number of new laws related to procurement.

International firm, Crown Agents, was hired to advise on the drafting of new procurement regulations, policies and bidding documents.

Crown’s contract included the provision of a draft public procurement bills, rules, a manual, and “standard forms and templates for standard bidding documents”.

“To date, a progress report, a draft final report, and first drafts of the Public Procurement Manual and standard bidding documents have been submitted; discussions have been held with the relevant stakeholders to agree to the final amendments to the documents,” the project update report noted.

It was anticipated that by the end of the 2012/2013 financial year, activities completed would include strengthening the public procurement legal framework, improvement of procurement operations and marketplace, strengthening of procurement institutional capacity, and modernisation and updating of technological infrastructure. (SC)

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