Online Procurement Promises Savings

The Philippine government is studying a proposal to build an online bidding system that could save government some 1 billion pesos (US$22 million) in the procurement of office supplies.

All bidding requirements for supplies that are common to all government offices will go through the online bidding system, known as the Electronic Rapid Acquisition Procurement (ERAP) System.

"Qualified suppliers will be able to bid for common supplies across the entire government . . . these are items that are common to all government offices, like bond paper, pencils, and the like," said Congressman Leandro Verceles of Catanduanes, author of the proposed executive order creating the bidding system.

Verceles said government could slice 20 percent, or as much as 1 billion pesos, off its yearly office supply expenditures of 5 billion pesos.

He added that it will take less than 5 million pesos to build the online bidding system. "If they (government officials) look at the cost of building it, they might frown, but if they look at the savings it will bring, then they might approve it," said Verceles.

To manage the bidding system, Verceles proposes the creation of a Presidential Acquisition Commission, which will have three commissioners. Ideally, there should be one lawyer and an IT-savvy executive on the commission. The third commissioner could be anyone, said Verceles.

Suppliers will be required to register and apply through the online bidding system. Qualified suppliers may then easily bid for any government requirement posted on the site. Suppliers will also be required to renew their applications every year.

Once the online facility is in place, Verceles said, corruption in the procurement process could be lessened, if not eliminated.

"To me, this is the best solution, because there will be less human contact between the government and the suppliers," he said.

The proposal is now being studied by the Department of Finance. The online bidding system is being eyed as part of the agency's anti-graft program.

Verceles said the proposal was submitted in April. A six-month study was conducted to determine the feasibility of the proposed bidding system.

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