India finally digitises procurement

New system intended to slash costs and speed up government purchases.

The Indian Government has launched a procurement site for vendors to bid for government projects. GeM, short for Government e-Marketplace, currently sells 2,534 products across 469 registered government departments, Radha Chauhan, Chief Executive Officer at India’s national e-governance division, told Bloomberg. However, it is not compulsory for all agencies to be a part of this programme, she added. Users of GeM will first need to register their mobile numbers and biometric IDs before gaining access to the service. Currently, the government uses a paper tender system to purchase its supplies, restricting access to local suppliers. Comparatively, GeM allows vendors throughout the country to bid for projects. Suppliers will also be paid within 10 days from the data of purchase, cutting time down from the usual two months and reducing likelihood of corruption. Digital procurement systems are common in the region. The Philippines Government Electronic Procurement System links public finances to its contracts system, allowing money to be tracked throughout the system. Korea has also digitised its entire procurement process for purchasing products, services and construction works. KONEPS uses fingerprint identification to authenticate users, recognising it as “the best solution to stave off unlawful biddings”, the government stated. Since 2011, the service was accessible on smartphones, and kept users updated on the bidding process through texts. It has also put pushed an informant reward policy to prevent illegal bidding practices. Singapore’s GeBIZ allows agencies to combine purchases to enjoy bulk discounts, and divides the procurement process to three levels: up to S$3,000; between S$3,001 to S$70,000; and above S$70,000. GeBIZ Mall was launched in 2006 for agencies to submit small value orders, at less than S$3,000, directly to suppliers for greater efficiency. Now read: Exclusive: Inside the Philippines Procurement Service