20 December 2012

Uganda: Poor Contract Management Affecting Service Delivery

Dr. Cornelia Sabiiti, the Executive Director of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) said lapses in contract management are affecting the delivery of social amenities to Ugandans.

"We have found out that the Government at times pays for no work done or very shoddy work and sometimes, contracts are not delivered on time. This has affected the ability of the Government to deliver quality services to the population," she said.

She was speaking during a stakeholders' workshop held last week in Kampala.

Sabiiti explained that the challenges in contract management emanate from the woes within the procurement process.

"Most of the problems of contract management are as a result of some of the problems within the procurement process. If your specifications are not done right, then you will get a poor contractor. If you are not vigilant on the past performance of a contractor, you will get a provider who either has no competence or does not have the financial muscle to see through a contract," she elaborated.

Delayed funding to the Procurement Disposal Entities (PDEs) from the finance ministry also contributes greatly to poor contract management, participants agreed.

"When you sign a contract, we undertake to pay under certain deliverables, and in time. But we have been having cases of delayed payments and releases to the entities. This affects the contract management processes," she noted.

Sabiiti added: "We cannot discuss the problems of contract management while divorcing them from financial management.

Until we become more efficient in our financial management as government, then we will have a more efficient contract management."

Pay on time

Peter Elliot of SGS Nederland B.V stressed the importance of paying contractors on time.

"Money is the oxygen of a contractor. If you do not give him money, he suffocates, and then dies! Why are we not paying our contractors on time? Their children need to eat as much as yours," he said.

He says the Government's role in the bolstering of the capacity of Procurement and Disposal Units (PDUs) is critical.

"All contractors want is to make quick money. If they are able to work without anyone supervising them, they will get away with poor work. As government, we need to step up our game to ensure that we have officers in the field.

But this can only happen if we improve their capacity, for example, someone upcountry has to supervise five projects in the subcounties, do they have the vehicles and fuel?" he said.

Sabiiti said the introduction of best practices such as the introduction of progress reports and e-procurement will go a long way in improving the capacity of PDEs as the lethargic paper work will be phased out.

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