Government procurement can also be referred to as public procurement or public tendering. It describes a situation where goods and services are procured by government agencies or entities on behalf of the public authority. This process is a core element in governance since the government can not operate smoothly without engaging in procurement activities. It is the process through which government obtain inputs to aid them fulfill their tasks and deliver public services, thus creating impact on societal key stakeholders.
Procurement activities therefore serve as vital organs to ensure the survival of both government and citizens. However, a lot of attention has to be directed to this area to avoid issues such as local protectionism, waste, corruption and fraudulent activities. These malpractices can lead not only local but also global economy into a halt. In the developing nations, government procurement accounts for 20% of GDP and 15% in developed nations. This implies that government procurement is a very substantial element in the global economic functioning.
It is an area that requires close legal monitoring because of its sensitivity in the global perspective. As a result, the law requires that national procuring authorities control the threshold values, by issuing public tenders at certain levels of procurements. To ensure international coordination and monitoring, all governments’ procurements are subject to plurilateral international treaty according to the auspices of world trade organization and also agreements on government procurements.
Procurement activities, procedures and regulations are therefore considered and treated as global concerns (Fernandez, 1996, p. 10). Considering the fact that public resources are scarce, every procurement regime by the government should consider efficiency a primary tool. For a procurement process to act as the best tool to achieve the value for money, it should embrace openness, non discrimination and transparency. Such environment brings about optimal competition among suppliers.
Procurement systems impact significantly on use and efficiency of public funds and determine the level of public confidence in governance and government. We can now argue that an efficient government procurement system promotes attainment of value of money, fair opportunities for suppliers in competing for government contracts and open public access to information on government contracts. In an international context, the government procurement determines international trade flows; represents primary market for foreign suppliers and the markets are of significant interest to both domestic and foreign suppliers.
Transparency in government procurements are usually made to examine national practices and transparency related provisions in the prevailing international instruments. It is therefore internationally required that a potential coverage, scope and clear definition of government procurements is provided. Also, there must be transparency involving both specific and general procurement procedural matters and procurement related information. If there exists any potential agreement concerning procurement contracts, proper and sound compliance mechanisms must be provided.
In the compliance documentation, issues on capacity building, technical assistance, role of differential and special treatment should be well highlighted. Aspects of differential and special treatment are brought in by facts that nations do not have the same level of development, thus calling for respectively fair treatment in trading issues. For instance, specifically negotiated offset schemes are retained for developing nations in all their procurement processes.
Technical assistance in government procurement is conducted in conjunction with international organizations, academic institutions, expert bodies and regional bodies. The international intervention in the procurement activities is made to implement objectives such as making familiarization on international agreement on government procurement to several nations. It also facilitates decision making and policy development at both regional and national levels by enhancing awareness of key principles and concepts in all areas of government procurement (Palmer, 1988, p. 17).