Less than 5% of government tender evaluators have any formal training or qualifications in procurement* Is it any wonder that public procurement practices are often below par?
But there’s a simple and effective solution. An update of the National Procurement qualification that’s supported NZ tender evaluators since 1990, supported by practical and effective training, can lift procurement skills quickly and cheaply. Here’s the background…
A recent survey completed by the NZ Council for Infrastructure Development confirmed that government procurement practices vary from excellent to poor, with most scoring in the range from ‘average’ to ‘poor’. This will come as no surprise to those working on the supply side of procurement.
It’s ironic that some segments of New Zealand (notably the NZ Transport Agency) employ procurement practices that are judged by many as the best in the world. Their processes are transparent, fit-for-purpose, and appear to provide a reasonably level playing field for suppliers.
However, procurement practices and skills employed by a majority of other government organisations are perceived to be well below international standards. Those organisations struggle to develop procurement tools that are aligned to the success factors for the project; frequently fail make evaluation criteria clear and objective; and often ask for extensive, unnecessary, time-consuming, and pointless information from bidders.
All of those inefficiencies ultimately add to the cost of our government products and services.
So, how can we save money through spreading the influence of the top-notch procurement practices that are evident in many NZTA projects?
The heart of the NZ Transport Agency’s great procurement practices lies in the qualification that the NZ Transport Agency requires evaluators to achieve. For more than 25 years, the NZ Transport Agency has had a comprehensive manual that prescribes its procurement procedures; and a Diploma-Level National Certificate which is mandated for at least one of the evaluation team for every significant transport procurement.
This includes tenders for transport projects that are prepared by NZ Transport Agency personnel, as well as those from Local Authorities where funding is received from the Transport Agency.
That NZQA National Certificate in Infrastructure Civil Engineering qualification is practical, relevant, and based on evidence of actual skills (rather than pure theory). It has been a significant driver of the best practice procurement that is clearly evident today on most NZTA projects.
The National Certificate is currently being reviewed by an industry group led by Connexis (the ITO that administers the qualification). The review and update of the qualification will make this qualification even more valuable to government agencies, through:
- Broadening to be applicable to a wider range of procurement projects beyond transport
- Greater emphasis on procurement planning
- Requirement for skills in putting together RFTs (now mandatory)
- Increased requirement for knowledge of government rules and potential legal pitfalls associated with procurement.
The new version of this qualification (now dubbed ‘the National Certificate in Infrastructure Procurement Procedures’) is expected to start taking over from the current version early in 2016. It’s pleasing to see that some enlightened Councils are already suggesting to their staff and consultants that this qualification should be required by anyone involved in procurement of complex projects, products and services.
The beauty is that achievement of this qualification is not difficult, and it can be completed by procurement professionals on the job, with minimal time off work.
Most of the assessment is done through demonstrating skills within the context of work tasks which will be routine for procurement professionals. There is now a training course (Clever Buying™) that covers the theory needed; and most reasonably conscientious procurement professionals can achieve the qualification over a period of just a few months.
Unlike the other procurement qualifications available, this is 100% relevant to the New Zealand market. It’s practical and immediately applicable in the procurement professional’s daily activities; and it covers off legal obligations for government organisations to train their staff in relevant legislation. Best of all, those who are trained and qualified through this National Certificate will have the knowledge and skills to streamline, sharpen, and save money from procurement processes.
To find out more about the proposed qualification changes, how to gain accreditation, or where to get procurement training, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Estimate based on national NZTA and CIPS qualification statistics, together with a survey of 500 tender evaluators engaged in procurement for a range of government organisations, between 2013 – 2015.