On 24 June 2011, the Maltese Government launched the eProcurement solution which will facilitate its transition to online procurement. The product supports the full process of public procurement, from the publishing stage to the award and execution of contracts.
The eProcurement solution will enable tender bids to be submitted securely online as well as providing new functions such as 'reverse auctions' where bidders compete to offer the lowest price. These solutions have been proven to result in better value for governments.
Aside from the benefits in cost and time savings, the solution will also generate increased competition as now foreign suppliers will also be able to keep track of what the Maltese Government is procuring. The European Commission (EC) is placing a lot of importance on procurement and when more countries adopt similar online solutions, local industry players will also have the opportunity to participate in the procurements of other member states.
Initially the eProcurement solution will be used by the Department of Contracts and the Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA) and since its launch these two entities have been able to use it internally. In the following months it is to become accessible to the private sector as well, which will enable companies to start submitting bids online. Within Government, there are about 150 other contracting authorities which publish tenders and these will eventually also start using the eProcurement solution.
The Hon. Minister Fenech, Minister for Finance, Economy and Investment (MFEI) who launched the product, said that the Maltese Government considers this solution a very important milestone. Since 2009, the Department of Contracts has published over 800 tenders for which the private sector has submitted almost 4 000 bids. He added: "Government has a significant role in a country's procurement because of its influence on the economy in terms of investment and jobs."
Claudio Grech, Chairman of MITA, said that the Agency will soon be rolling out a next-generation eGovernment platform which would bring about a complete paradigm shift in electronic services. He added: "The eProcurement solution is a vital component for our plans in having a complete environment through which both the public and private sectors can attain the most benefits. Public entities will be able to provide value added services not only to their suppliers but also to their own workforce and internal management systems."
Referring to the EC's 2010 eGovernment Benchmarking Report, in which Malta was established as a European leader in eGovernment after achieving 100 % in five of the six core indicators measured, Mr Grech said that "the sixth indicator, in which Malta still fared relatively well but did not achieve top marks, was eProcurement. This has given the Agency the extra thrust to work towards today's milestone to ensure that our eGovernment framework will be second to none in the European Union."
Leonidas Bardis, Assistant Managing Director at the company providing the eProcurement solution, said that the product used their most advanced platform and aside from facilitating the complete procurement process, it also provides additional functions such as eCatalogues and eOrdering.
John Gatt, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Communications (MITC), said that once all contracting authorities have completed the changeover and adopted eProcurement practices, the major benefit for the private sector is that they will be able to keep up to date with all Government procurement activities through a single portal. He concluded: "The eProcurement solution is an enabler to expedite public purchasing, and make the interaction between Government and the private sector a more transparent one. I hope that all contracting authorities will welcome this solution and be proactive in the way they use it."
The launch was followed by a meeting of the National Information Society Advisory Council (NISCO) which provided members and attendees from various private industries with more detailed information on the Government's transition to online procurement.