Innovative Procurement and Contract management solutions for Challenging and Fragile Environments
Under Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, the On Farm Water Management Project (funded by ARTF and being monitored by World Bank) was approved in January 2011. The project mainly aims at improving water use efficiency to increase agricultural production, building capacity of local staff to implement similar projects in the country and educating farmers to adopt high efficiency irrigation and improved agricultural practices. A Kabul-based Project Implementation Unit headed by the Project Director/Manager, with the assistance of Core Team of Specialists and Support Staff is responsible for execution of the project. Five regional area teams- one each in Kabul, Nangarhar (Jalalabad), Mazar-i- Sharif (Balkh), Baghlan and Herat, have been established for implementation of field activities. In the beginning, the award of the main contracts (Works Contracts for Improvement of various Irrigation Schemes) was delayed by about 15 months resulting in extremely poor utilization of grant funds. At that time the country was having several problems as listed below due to which the environment was fragile and quite challenging:After the prolonged civil wars, although the post conflict environment in Afghanistan was gradually improving, yet still infrastructure facilities were very much limited, particularly skills related to use of high technology. ii. Due to frequent terrorist and suicide bombers’ attacks the overall working environment was very much in secure. iii. The project was the first On Farm Water Management project in Afghanistan with limited technical experience of survey & design, procurement of irrigation works and implementation of such works by the Ministry of Agriculture. iv. The Procurement capacity in Afghanistan in general and OFWMP in particular for proper/timely bidding and evaluation of bids for various goods, works and consultancy contracts was very much limited. v. Due to number of development projects going in different ministries the turnover of staff was very high and level of involvement/devotion/initiative was quite low. vi. An inappropriate decision for major use of high technology pre-cast parabolic structures (PCPS) for lining of various irrigation channels had already been taken and the procurement of PCPS was imposing a major challenge due to inadequate technical capabilities and skills available in Afghanistan for manufacturing them. vii. Procurement documentation and maintenance of procurement records such as Procurement Request Registers, Bid Registers and Contract Registers etc. was far from satisfactory.Started interacting with the design team to make the procurement requests available in bulk by expediting the designing of the various irrigation schemes which had already been surveyed but the preparation/finalization/review/approval of the designs was pending at various stages in five area offices/regions of the project and also in its Core Team office at Kabul. ii. Introduced a “Desk Oriented” system of working in the procurement unit by making one procurement staff responsible and accountable for all the procurement activities of a particular procurement package. In order to implement it, the procurement work was first generally re-distributed goods, consultancy services and works wise and then for works, region wise. iii. Improved interaction with the vendors by having frequent Vendor’s Workshops for educating them for
Due to proper coordination with design units and monitoring the receipts of Procurement requests the average time taken in completing the survey and designs has reduced from earlier 219 days to 59 days. ii. The total time taken in awarding the NCB works contracts (after receipt of the procurement requests) has been reduced from about 165 days to 76 days (by completing the bid evaluation in average 5 to 13 days only (averages of latest 2 periods of year 2016 (against earlier average of about 40 to 53 days (averages of earlier 2 periods of year 2012). Due to close monitoring of the execution of works, most of the works were got timely completed. It is worth mentioning that this has been a significant factor in timely award and completion of irrigation works due to which the overall project rating was changed from “Unsatisfactory” to “Satisfactory”. iii. Due to quick evaluation of the bids and award of the contracts and also improved monitoring of payments, the confidence of the bidders/contractors in the project is day by day increasing and they are getting encouraged to bid for various works packages of the project due to which there is increase in healthy competition resulting in award of the contracts in most of the cases at prices about 25% lower than our estimated costs (The award cost of all the works awarded in year 2016 has been about 8.4 Million USD (against estimated cost of about 11.2 Million USD) with saving of about 2.8 Million USD).
Our experience shows that the following are the prime factors for the success: i. Regular interaction with the Technical and Admin teams, Finance Unit and World Bank. ii. The commitment of the management for monitoring various procurement activities, motivating the procurement staff, taking interest in solving various procurement and contract management problems and issues. iii. Timely updating of the data in the database and proper use of the various exception reports. iv. Regular training of the staff. It is also necessary that various procurement delays and issues are timely and properly analyzed and remedial actions are taken to avoid them in future.
i.Introducing a “Desk Oriented” system of working making one procurement staff responsible for all the procurement activities of a particular procurement package. ii. Designing/Developing and introducing standard formats for almost all the non-standard procurement documents such as Procurement Requests, Request for Quotations, various check lists, Minutes of Bid Openings, Bid evaluation reports, Quotation Evaluation Reports, Purchase Orders, Proposal for variations/Contract Amendments, Contract Amendments etc. iii. Introducing Procurement Request Registers and other related documentation. iv. Using Mail/Merge option of MS Word for preparing most of the documents listed in (ii) above v. Improving interaction with the vendors by having frequent Vendor’s Workshops and educating them for proper preparation of their bids, providing proper response to various requests for clarifications and proper execution of the contacts. vi. Proper training and capacity development of the procurement staff. vii. Introducing monitoring and follow up procedures at various stages.
As already mentioned in the case story the innovations have already been replicated within our organization impacting additional processes. As, these innovations are very simple and related to only general initiative, common sense and use of MS office products (with MS Access) and email facilities, which are everywhere available these days, the replication can be very easily started in other organizations in the country or in a different country.
iNeed to expedite the designing of the various irrigation schemes which had already been surveyed but the preparation/finalization/review/approval of the designs was pending at various stages in five area offices/regions of the project and also in its head office at Kabul. ii. Preparation of the bidding documents immediately after completion of the designs and advertise all the irrigation schemes as soon as the drawings and BoQs are made available to the procurement unit. iii. Expedite selection and survey of new irrigation schemes so that the momentum is maintained to make the schemes available for design and procurement to achieve the periodical targets laid by World Bank. iv. Deploy an efficient monitoring system to monitor all the procurement activities to expedite the technical scrutiny of the bids, seek clarifications from the bidders and verify the credentials of the recommended bidders (It is worth mentioning that due to wide spread submission of fake qualification documents by many bidders in Afghanistan, World Bank had made it mandatory (for all the cases) to verify the documents for similar works and liquid assets from the concerned employer and bank respectively) v. Lack of coordination in arranging the meetings of bid evaluation committees and preparing/finalizing the draft Bid Evaluation Reports (BERs) immediacy after the meeting. vi. Delays in signing of the BERs, their approval by the competent authority and the signing of the contracts. vii. Delays in execution of the contracts and solving various field problems viii. Delays in the payment of invoices submitted by the contractors. ix. Unreasonably high prices being asked by the vendors for manufacturing and transportation of pre-cast parabolic structures (PCPS).
Auth for Case Story Fragile Env.pdf