If you were a public procurement officer working in Central Asia ten years ago, it was unlikely that you had any direct communication linkages with your counterparts in Georgia, Turkey, or any other country in Europe and Central Asia. Although much of the work being done by procurement officers in many countries was similar in both scope and format, a mechanism that could link these professionals through an informal community of practice simply did not exist.
April 25, 2005, however, was a turning point. This date marked the first day of the inaugural Regional Public Procurement Forum – a regional workshop developed by the World Bank in an effort to draw on expertise on public procurement from around Central Asia and beyond, foster cooperation, and provide a platform to exchange knowledge and experiences relating to public procurement reform.
By the time this first forum had ended, an action plan had emerged. It called for both the establishment of a regional public procurement group that would meet at an annual forum and the introduction of mechanisms to expand competition and promote regional integration and cooperation in the sphere public procurement. This first forum planted the seed for what has subsequently sprouted into an annual forum that is instrumental in improving public procurement for practitioners across the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region.
“The introduction of the Public Procurement Forum in 2005 was an important moment, in terms of support being provided by the World Bank,” notes Samia Msadek, Director for Operational Services and Quality in the ECA region of the World Bank, “this forum is fundamental in helping to ensure the sustainability of the work we are doing in coordination with our public procurement partners throughout the region.”