Good procurement is not just about saving money. It is also about the efficiencies and quality improvements of what it is being created or purchased in sectors critical for development, such as health, education, and water. The World Bank's procurement team focuses on helping governments become more innovative, efficient, transparent, and inclusive in purchasing the goods and services they need to deliver services for people.
Areas of Focus
Support for Fragile and Conflict Affected
Situations of fragility, conflict, and violence (FCV) are often characterized by insecurity, instability, and limited capacity. These are some of the most difficult areas for the World Bank to carry out its mission. Yet, it is in FCV countries where the Bank's advice is most needed since public spending often covers a larger share of urgent needs and basic services.
The World Bank Procurement Framework determines the fit-for-purpose procurement arrangements, while the Bank staff provide extensive support with implementation.
For instance, the Middle East and North Africa team developed a Toolkit for Emergency Procurement for Recovery and Reconstruction. The toolkit facilitates adaptation of procurement procedures to enable the delivery of goods, services, and works in situations of urgent need and capacity constraints – especially, in recovery and reconstruction from natural and manmade disasters. The toolkit has been used in Iraq to reconstruct bridges around Mosul, and resulted in simplified procurement methods in emergencies, and in empowering the local private sector.
It is estimated that less than one percent of the estimated $10 trillion spent annually on global public procurement is awarded to women-led businesses. Connecting national procurement needs with women-owned SMEs supports the growth of women-led businesses by connecting them with new markets and by building capacity. The Procurement team is promoting gender equality in public procurement in several countries. In Uganda, the Bank is helping the Government conduct studies on the capacity of the contractors and suppliers and its impact on competition. The team is helping SME’s become more competitive through the development of doing business toolkits and training materials, including an online course. The government of Malawi, with the support of the Bank, is conducting an SME-procurement-readiness assessment to identify key obstacles to SMEs’ participation in public procurement and guidelines for SMEs participation.
A STEP Ahead for Efficient Procurement
World Bank staff and borrowers use the World Bank’s new procurement software, Systematic Tracking of Exchanges in Procurement (STEP), to plan procurement processes while recording and tracking progress. STEP is the main source of data for the Monitoring & Evaluation framework for procurement. This data is used to enhance transparency and future contract award reporting. Transparency is increased by making publicly available more relevant procurement information to interested parties, especially businesses, of upcoming opportunities. Continued enhancements to STEP, including in its functionality, are improving the overall system performance and user experience.
Electronic Government Procurement & Data Analytics
Electronic Government Procurement (e-GP) has become a building block for greater data disclosure and advanced data analytics, which provides information that can be used for better project implementation and monitoring. It is also helping inform other emerging innovations in procurement, such as artificial intelligence, and distributed ledgers and blockchain.
For example, the availability of machine-readable procurement data collected in e-GP systems has advanced data analytics, offering a better understanding of the volume of public spending and its categories, as well as identifying areas for improvement along the procurement cycle. The Bank is working with governments to harness the advancements in artificial intelligence and data analytics to detect inefficiencies and bottlenecks in procurement processes, and to automate the fraud detection in large data sets. In East Asia and the Pacific, for instance, in Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand, comprehensive data analytics exercises resulted in actionable recommendations to better manage the use of public funds and increase the quality of procurement outcomes. In Europe and Central Asia, the Bank has supported an increasing number of countries, such as, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, and Albania, in using indicators-driven data analytics as a tool to measure the performance of their procurement systems.
Enhanced Transparency Through Disruptive Technology
The World Bank promotes the integration of disruptive technology in public procurement processes. In addition to automating transactions, disruptive technologies may help better integrate e-GP systems with Financial Management systems, certify the completion of work or receipt of supplies, and control the flow of money through integrated payment systems. They may also be used to track evidence-based data on economic operators with unique identifiers, such as beneficial ownership, historical contract performance, or fraud detection.
Disruptive technologies can drive innovation and automation in public procurement transactions and can reduce the burden of routine small-value and/or low-risk procurement. This means that borrowers can dedicate greater attention to the higher risk, high-value or complex procurement arrangements from planning through implementation. In addition, the Bank is leveraging its Procurement Framework to facilitate the adoption of disruptive technologies in Bank-financed projects when appropriate and help deliver cutting-edge development solution.
A focus of the World Bank, especially in the context of its Procurement Framework, is to help build borrowers’ procurement capacity. At the project level, the World Bank develops operational capacity among Bank borrowers to implement projects effectively. At the systemic level, the Bank supports countries in their procurement modernization and institution-building efforts.
Capacity to better handle procurement in Bank-financed projects is an important lever for broader, more systemic reforms. The World Bank recognizes that borrower systems may require deeper reforms and, thus, may require greater engagement with clients.
The World Bank’s capacity building activities in procurement include knowledge sharing and training events, learning forums, support to projects for procurement reforms, and implementation support vis-à-vis overall engagement by Bank staff for technical and advisory support at the country level. There are over 150 operations (totaling over US$14 billion) that have procurement capacity building components or activities (totaling over US$3 billion for active projects) in the Bank’s portfolio.
MAPS: Setting the Standard for Sound Procurement
The World Bank continues its active involvement in the global effort to implement the Methodology for Assessing Procuring Systems (MAPS), a global standard for determining the quality of procurement systems. The Bank co-chairs the MAPS working group comprising of multilateral development banks, bilateral donors, and partner countries. This newly revised MAPS is intended to catalyze and accelerate the implementation of modern, efficient, sustainable, and more inclusive public procurement systems in all countries. The tool’s analytical framework is grouped under four organizational pillars: legislative and regulatory framework, institutional framework and management capacity, procurement operations and market practices, and integrity and transparency of public procurement systems. MAPS assessments highlight where reforms are most needed and indicate how they can best be implemented.
Eighteen out of about 30 ongoing MAPS assessments in the world are being leaded by the World Bank Procurement staff.
Global Procurement Partnership
Partner countries and other stakeholders show great interest in supporting and engaging in modern ways of procurement. In recognition of the strategic role of public procurement in development, the Global Procurement Partnership (GPP), multi-donor trust fund, was established in 2017. GPP supports clients in achieving modern, efficient, and transparent procurement systems by providing analytical tools and resources that advance procurement reforms.
Currently, several activities are being implemented under the GPP, including a Global Procurement Database, MAPS training, development of guides and supplementary modules (on agency-level assessment and sustainable procurement), MAPS country implementation, an impact evaluation of the electronic Government Procurement (e-GP) system, and Value for Money performance-based contracting approaches in key sectors.