Gordhan’s chief procurement officer will come to the rescue

2012-02-25 19:24

He will be the hero of the man in the street and feared by every ­tenderpreneur. We don’t know who he is yet, but when the chief procurement officer (CPO) comes to town, everyone will take note.

The CPO is probably the most interesting job Minister of ­Finance Pravin Gordhan has created since he took office.

Whoever gets this position will have the power to cancel tenders if he or she sees fit, and intervene before the cash is paid out to a crooked businessperson or ­government official.

The official will be tasked with investigating possible kickbacks or tenders-for-friends schemes.

According to the Treasury’s ­director-general, Lungisa Fuzile, the appointee will deal with weaknesses in the procurement system.

The most important weakness, it appears, lies in the supply chain management process.

“The problems relate to misdemeanours such as favouritism and ­rigging of tenders. We have concluded there is no monitoring of the extent to which people comply with supply chain management rules.”

The CPO, unlike the Auditor-General, will be inside government, so he will be quicker off the mark to spot problems in the process and do something about it before any money gets paid out.

Says Fuzile: “The CPO will do an audit before the financial year has ended.

“He will know who won the ­tender and what relationships exist between those who won the tender and the employees of the department who awarded the tender.”

The CPO will also try to spot trends to ensure that the same mistakes are not made twice.

But will the new office have any teeth?

“The office will ensure that ­disciplinary procedures take their course,” is all Fuzile would say for now.

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