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SMEs advocate smart govt procurement processes

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Government must abandon the preferential procurement framework for smart procurement.

So said Leon Rolls, president of the Progressive Blacks in ICT, during a panel session discussing “using 4IR to enhance preferential procurement outcomes” at GovTech 2019.

The Department of Trade and Industry defines preferential procurement as “the procurement of goods and services from empowering suppliers as a percentage of total procurement”.

Rolls expressed that preferential procurement is supposed to be for the ‘have-nots’ but SA translates it to the ‘haves’, which makes no sense.

“Smart procurement means if I need to buy something then I need to work within this framework. We need to go for an open system that uses 4IR smart processes…We need to come with new things of smart procurement.”

The Black IT Forum’s Baratang Meyer added that using innovation to procure reduces a lot of manual interventions. “Preferential procurement would be much better if the algorithm was written properly.”   

Meanwhile, Mpho Shokane from the ICT SMME Chamber said the biggest issue SMEs have is something called CSD: the central supplier database.

To modernise its supply chain management, in September 2015 National Treasury introduced the CSD to be the source of all supplier information for all organs of state.

It is the single source of organisations, institutions and individuals that can provide goods and services to government. Companies hoping to supply to government are required to register and be assessed for inclusion.

However, Shokane says the government database doesn’t work for anybody. “We commend the government for the initiative; we think it is a brilliant idea but it doesn’t really work.”

He is of the view that the CSD is a waste of time because everybody can bypass it and still get a tender. “The tender process does not work and the payment processes do not work – we wait 20 years as SMEs to get paid. The reality is there needs to be clear goals and growth as to what is needed for procurement to go through properly.”      

Shokane advised the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. “It’s right here on our doorstep; we have it but we do not know to use it.”

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