Establishing e-Government Procurement in Vietnam: A Learning Tour with Chile on the Public-Private Partnership Process
The Government of Vietnam wanted to establish e-government procurement (eGP) using a public-private partnership (PPP) model to improve government transparency. However, Vietnam lacked the know-how for contracting with service providers who could install the e-system. Additionally there were no adequate regulations in place to govern the system. Chile had initiated a successful e-government procurement system through a public-private partnership, offering Vietnam a tested approach for developing its own action plan.
At the time of the exchange, there was a partial e-government procurement system in place in Vietnam that was brought over and installed by Korean experts but not fully understood by Vietnamese users. The Government of Vietnam recognized that a well-functioning e-government procurement system would improve its transparency and accountability and wanted to replace the old system with a new end-to-end system that handled the entire flow of procurement using a PPP model. Vietnamese public and private stakeholders needed to know the proper procedures for contracting with e-service system providers and have adequate policies and regulations to govern the system. In order to develop an action plan, the Vietnam Government needed concrete guidance from a country that had already been through the process. Initially, Malaysia was identified as a knowledge-providing country but was soon facing its own internal challenges; the Chilean Government was then recommended as having a good practice approach for this challenge.
Malaysia was identified as a potential provider because it had experience with e-government procurement and had similar environmental conditions and geographic proximity to Vietnam. However, just before the agreement was finalized, Malaysian Airline Flight 370 went missing in March 2014. Due to that national crisis, Malaysia was unwilling to allow anyone to study its ICT system. The Malaysian Government recommended Chile, which agreed to do the exchange.
Before the knowledge exchange, the Vietnam delegates sent a questionnaire to their Chilean counterparts. A videoconference was held to confirm that both sides had similar expectations and understanding of the hoped-for results. To give the exchange a sense of urgency, the Vietnam delegates agreed to prepare and meet with a concrete action plan. The study tour took place over five days, June 9-13, 2014, in Chile. The first day involved introductions and presentations on the history, installation, and technical details of Chile’s e-government procurement system, including the involvement of private partners and service providers. On the second day, delegates discussed the system’s organizational structure such as reporting and accountability and interacted with the system from a user’s perspective. The third day involved a field visit to typical system users, offering an opportunity to ask how they use the system, what they think of it, and how it affects their business. The field visit also included a customer service center run by a private entity. The fourth morning was dedicated to the completion of the proposed action plan for Vietnam, which was presented to the Chilean delegates in an afternoon session. The Chilean delegates asked questions and offered feedback about the practicality of the plan. On the fifth day, participants shared their refined action plan based on the questions and comments from the Chilean experts. The action plan included specific deadlines such as setting a certain number of meetings and coming to agreement on particulars. All of the activities in the action plan have been implemented thus far.
The exchange helped in finalizing the action plan that led to implementation of the following activities:
- Recruiting a provider to install the system using the PPP model.
- Completing a study on the economic viability of the system, which suggested that the revenue from procurement may not be able to pay for the system. Because of that, an appeal has been made to the Prime Minister to set aside money in the budget for e-government procurement.
- Following up and receiving clearance from the Prime Minister to implement the system using the PPP model.
- Drafting a bidding instrument, including technical specifications, in order to get funding for the PPP. The instrument must be finalized, which requires hiring a consultant, who will be funded through the World Bank.
- Preparation, especially having participants articulate specific questions in advance, helped make the exchange go smoothly and helped both sides clearly understand expectations.
- Strong leadership and political commitment to implement a transparent eGP system in Vietnam was a great motivation to approaching the knowledge country to learn from them.
- Preparation of a realistic strategy and action plan to launch an on-line platform (such as Vietnam’s) a clearly defined vision, mission, objectives and specific action lines is a key starting point to achieving results.
- Raising awareness for all stakeholders, including procurement entities, bidders, politicians, civil society organizations, and citizens generally is of critical importance for achieving consensus on the implementation and expected benefits for using such centralized platform.
- This exchange and the follow-up actions demonstrated that to have a successful implementation of a new eGovernment Procurement System requires strategic change management and capacity building effort.
- If possible, raise funds with other Development Partners to implement the actions agreed upon during the exchange. Not having the funds to take the next steps will stall the process at this critical and exciting time.
- The strong backing of the Accredited Procurement Manager for the World Bank’s East Asia Pacific Region, and the Vietnam Country Director facilitated in receiving financial support from South-South Exchange Trust Fund for this knowledge sharing experience. The two were highly in favor of the exchange, which was very helpful in developing an excellent exchange.
The World Bank brokered the exchange, helping Vietnam to identify knowledge-providing partners and has promised funding for follow-up activities. The Bank has provided Vietnam in the last few years with two IDF grants to develop a national roadmap to e-government procurement and develop new procurement law. The Bank also provided support to facilitate meetings among the Government team members, and guided developing the implementation plan for the new eGP and its rollout. This knowledge exchange was funded with US$46,976, provided by the South-South Facility.
Vietnam Public Procurement Agency
Due to the solid action plan developed, other funding agencies were interested in supporting certain aspects of the project. USAID financed a circular to guide implementation of e-government procurement in Vietnam. The Vietnamese PPP model needs a lawyer and a financial counselor to help negotiate contracts with PPP partners. Based on the action plan, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has agreed to fund the needed consultants. All funding has been secured to execute the next steps, except for the World Bank funds.
- Nguyen Son, Deputy Director General of Public Procurement Agency (PPA), Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI): “The knowledge and lessons learned from Chile will greatly benefit our implementation of e-GP system in Vietnam. As the person with the overall responsibility for the implementation of the eGP System in Vietnam, I had a lot of sleepless nights thinking about how and where to start from. The knowledge acquired from our Chilean counterparts has now made it easy for our planning and implementation strategy. Now we have a clearer goal with well-defined actions to help us achieve it. We feel more confident in every action we take and are convinced that we will succeed.”
- Lam Mai, Deputy Director of e-Procurement Management Division, PPA, MPI: “The knowledge and experience gained from the exchange is very timely. The eGP implementation team had been struggling with developing an implementation plan for a new eGP system in term of design, technical features, participatory strategy and rollout for a while. […]The exchange has provided better understanding of the whole implementation requirements how activities are linked. Based on the knowledge gained and awareness raised, the team has been motivated to make a leap just a few weeks after the field visit. Momentum for implementation has now increased substantially to help us achieve our ultimate goal. Once the system is developed and rolled out countrywide, it will contribute to the desired long-term impact of increased transparency, enhanced competition, higher efficiency leading to value for money in our public procurement process.”
- Hoang Thi, Director General of General Economy Department, Central Committee for National Economics
- Tinh Quan Duoc, Deputy Director General of economy Department, Office of National Assembly
- Van Trong Duan, Deputy Directory, Center for Procurement Support, PPA, MPI
- Nguyen Tuan Thanh, Government Official, Prime Minister’s Office
- Trinh Van Thanh, Office of eProcurement Management Division, PPA, MPI
- Tang Ly Quang Huy, Official of Procurement Policy Division, PPA, MPI
- Nguyen Thuy Nga, Official of Personnel Department, MPI
- Nguyen Thi Tuyet Giang, Official, International Law Department, Ministry of Justice
- Trinidad Inostroza, Director, ChileCompra, Procurement Bureau, Ministry of Finance
- Marjorie Ramirez, International Coordinator, ChileCompra, Head of Framework Agreements Division
- Guillermo Andres Burr, Head of Research Dept., ChileCompra, Procurement Bureau, Ministry of Finance
- Felipe Olmos, Secretary of the Public Procurement Court
- Andres Ruiz, Head of Legal Division, ChileCompra
- Lorna Harrington, Area of Communications and Marketing
- Marco Vera, Head of Division of Technology
Knowledge Exchange in the Design and Implementation of eGP System/ TF071093 - Multi Donor Trust Fund for the South-South Experience Exchange between Practitioners, 5/19/2014 to 11/19/2014.