FEATURE STORY October 31, 2017

Afghanistan’s Public Procurement Racks Up Victories Against Corruption

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Because of timeliness, quality, and effectiveness of teams, the 2016 Annual Performance Assessment Report named National Procurement Authority as the top performer among 19 directorate generals and 63 teams, covering the Ministry of Finance.

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank


STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • The National Procurement Authority has topped an annual performance assessment of institutions managing public finances.
  • The Authority is at the forefront of the fight against corruption in Afghanistan and was instrumental in developing a transparent procurement system.
  • A vibrant professional team is the force behind the authority’s reforms to ensure a fair national procurement system that is free of corruption.

KABUL – Afghanistan is making vast inroads to root out corruption, improve the management of its public finance, and make its procurement system more transparent, finds the 2016 Annual Performance Assessment Report, which evaluates the timeliness and quality of services provided by government personnel.

The report named the National Procurement Authority (NPA) the top performer among 19 directorate generals and 63 teams, covering the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and two agencies, NPA and Afghanistan Extractives Industries Transparency (AEITI). The assessment pointed to the culture of performance emerging in NPA.

“There is a good spirit in the workplace and all NPA teams work for a common vision to make the national procurement sector free of corruption,” says Mohamad Sohail Kaakar, Director for strategic communication and integrity at NPA. NPA has an energetic team with experience in working with many national and international organizations. This background has enabled them to establish a professional environment inside the authority.

As Deputy Finance Minister Khalid Payenda says that “most NPA employees are experienced and highly educated young people. They have good coordination with each other, resulting in a professional environment and great teamwork.” He believes the NPA team is made up of valuable professionals working toward the government’s vision to improve public procurement and combat corruption.

“Our focus is on results,” says Sohail Kaakar, “and as we have traveled a long way to reach where we are now, it keeps us motivated and gives us the diligence to work to institutionalize reforms.”

The 2016 Annual Performance Assessment Report was conducted in two phases.

First, teams conducted a self-assessment against 2016 activities from their Five-Year Fiscal Performance Improvement Plan, which supports the government in reaching its goals of sustainable government finances and self-reliance.

Then, the self-assessments were validated by a team from the Performance Management and Public Expenditure Reforms Unit, formerly PM&PER, which operates under the MoF and works with MoF teams and agencies to develop five-year rolling plans that reflect international benchmarks. 


"Our focus is on results, and as we have traveled a long way to reach where we are now, it keeps us motivated and gives us the diligence to work to institutionalize reforms."
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Mohamad Sohail Kaakar
Director for strategic communication and integrity, National Procurement Authority

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Through the National Procurement Authority website, everyone including general public, civil society organizations and media can now access information about different cycles of procurement processes. 

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank


Effective Monitoring Has Helped Save $270 million

NPA receives funding support from the Public Financial Management Reform (PFMR) project that aims to improve the performance of Afghanistan’s public finance systems. Implemented by the Ministry of Finance, PFMR is supported by the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) and is scheduled to operate through 2017. 

In 2016, NPA created a comprehensive online Contract Progress Monitoring Mechanism and an online tracking mechanism for projects under procurement review to give the public and media free access to public information.

The early data and information on procurement processes is accessible to all on the NPA website. Robust oversight and monitoring have helped the government save about $270 million.

Moreover, the Authority registers companies and their owners, thus preventing them from giving false information in future biddings. It has also set up a system to blacklist companies that present false information in procurement biddings. To date, NPA has blacklisted 90 companies and sent their information to the Attorney General for follow-up. “The NPA team has improved the quality of the procurement system,” says Humayoun Kamal, director of Access Group, a company working in engineering, construction, and transportation of goods in Afghanistan. “They have made a fair environment for all eligible bidders so that they can bid without corruption concerns.”

These efforts were critical in helping Afghanistan become a member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), which the Afghan government committed to at the London Conference on Anti-Corruption in 2015. Thanks to its NPA initiatives, Afghanistan’s score rose from 56 percent in 2015 against the OGP eligibility criteria to 88 percent in 2016, well above the 75 percent eligibility threshold.

Businessmen in Afghanistan, like Humayoun Kamal, are appreciative of the reforms. “NPA is a good initiative,” he says. “They made the procurement structure simple so that everyone can understand it and encourage companies to invest in Afghanistan. In the long term, this will foster economic growth.”


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The National Procurement Authority organizes training sessions on procurement related issues for staff of procurement departments from various government ministries to buildup their knowledge and through that, improve effectiveness of procurement departments. Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

Decentralizing Procurement

According to Transparency International, Afghanistan progressed from second most corrupt country in the world in 2015 to eighth most in 2016. However, the country remains among the top 10 most corrupt countries in the world and reforms are fragile, vulnerable to threats, and need more work.

“Even though the procurement authority has brought transparency to the procurement system and did a great job, there is corruption in the ministries,” says Payenda, who believes most procurement staff in ministries need more resources and training. To that end, NPA is helping staff expand their knowledge of procurement, and, by doing so, slowly decentralizing procurement to relevant departments in ministries.

“NPA activities have been extraordinary over the last 3 years and it is admirable,” says Deputy Minister Payenda. “NPA’s efforts are re-establishing trust between the government and people and makes everyone hopeful for the future of Afghanistan.” 



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