There is a constant battle against corruption in government departments in South Africa, with the Department of Public Works currently undertaking a voluntary investigation of irregularities in the department with the help of the Special Investigating Unit.
Owner and developer of the Tendersure system Sentigol reports that it has devised a solution to prevent tender corruption but, after three years of getting the runaround from government, the company has offered its services to corporate firms, which have embraced the product.
Tendersure is a Web-based tender application process that provides access to all tender documentation and processes the bids at no start-up cost to the client.
“This entire process is com- pleted online. Based on the criteria programmed into the ranking engine, a ranking report is generated after the tender closes and sent to the adjudication body for final approval,” explains Sentigol.
The encrypted system provides similar security to online banking and creates an automatic audit trail and ensures that bids are adjudicated only on merit. The anticorruption tool is a fast and efficient process for issuing tenders and requests for quotes (RFQs).
Sentigol CEO Werner Coetzee says the main reason why government has not employed the Tendersure solution is government’s decision to implement the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS), which aims to integrate and modernise information technology systems that support human resource management and supply chain and financial management in the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA).
The system was launched by Public Service and Adminis-tration Minister Richard Baloyi in February and is expected to replace current systems over the next few years. The IFMS is a joint initiative between the DPSA, the National Treasury and the State Information Technology Agency.
“The IFMS may or may not have similar functionality to our product and tenders have also been awarded for hundreds of millions of rands to develop this system. “Years after these tenders were awarded in 2007, little or nothing has been rolled out and, in the interim, new products are not being considered.
“We have been fortunate enough to have met some officials and politicians with good intentions and values but I am sad to say that, on the whole, corruption is so woven through the system that often the decision- makers, to whom we presented the solution, are the ones benefiting from poor tender control,” says Coetzee.
He explains that research by international anticorruption bodies such as Transparency International, Global Financial Integrity, the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, the World Bank and the Tear Fund estimates that the cost of corruption in Africa, including bribery in procurement and tender fraud, is about 25% of Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP). This is thought to increase the cost of goods by as much as 20%.
“South Africa’s GDP is about R2 700-billion. In April, Finance Minister Gordhan Pravin stated that the tax-to-GDP ratio was 25,3%. “This means that the potential loss to corruption for the South African economy is equal to the average total amount of tax collected by the South African Revenue Service in a year, namely R675-billion,” suggests Coetzee.
Sentigol reports that, on average, where Tendersure has been implemented, an audited 15% improvement has been realised in maintenance costs and services put out to tender.
The system currently has more than 1 800 registered contractors and has processed tenders and RFQs in excess of R500-million.
Coetzee says market leaders in various segments of industry, such as resort hotel chain Sun International, paint manufacturer Plascon Group, industrial brand management company Barloworld, independent property services companies JHI, Broll and Vukile, insurance and financial services providers Hollard Insurance and Sanlam, paper manufacturer Sappi and private hospital group Medi-Clinic, have started to use Tendersure for their procurement needs with great success.
“Tendersure started out as an anticorruption tool, yet has grown into so much more. “Owing to our built-in vetting process, our clients are engaging us in vetting their contractor databases, ensuring that every bidder conforms to at least the minimum requirements,” he concludes.