The Financial Express

How RHD developed digitalisation of procurements

How RHD developed digitalisation of procurements

The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) is responsible for management of national, regional and district road network of bridges under the Bangladesh government and construction and maintenance of major road networks in the country. The department's management information system (MIS) was established in 2000. The RHD is one of the largest government offices that introduced information and communication technology (ICT)-based activities in all sorts of financial and procurement affairs.

In MIS of RHD, there are 12 databases viz, Organisational Database, Personal Database, Road Maintenance Management System (RMMS), Bridge Maintenance Management System (BMMS), Central Management System (CMS), Project Monitoring System, Tender Database, Schedule of Rates, Contractor Database, Training Database, Document Database, and Network Certification Database containing all sorts of information of bridges and culverts with conditions and road information including traffic, roughness, road condition, pavement inventory and financial project information, different manuals, rules and regulations, citizen charter and standard test procedures, design standards for roads and bridges as well as management plans for each area.     

HIGHWAY DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT OF RHD: The RMMS (Road Maintenance Management System) is processed through Highway Development Management-4 (HDM-4) to produce maintenance plans and GIS (geographic information system) map. The RMMS database is useful to view ongoing work classified by development, revenue and deposit work with historical reports. Central Management System (CMS) is a software which has been developed in-house. It's a computerised management tool used in field division offices to record and report performance of the RHD by collating data of all contracts and all expenditures. The RHD CMS field module has been developed for managing 'Contract Information' -- from its inception to the final process. This module is used to enter contract details including BoQs (Bill of Quantities) and measurements throughout the entire process. Its output allows physical and financial monitoring at field level.                  

CENTRAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM OF RHD: CMS is an extremely useful tool for monitoring and therefore managing contracts. It will be used for preparing contracts, engineer's estimates, valuations and payment certificates as well as recording budgets and expenditures for both revenue and development budgets, covering both Government of Bangladesh (GoB) and foreign aid-funded projects. All division offices use most powerful CMS (Central Management System) for managing the RHD's budget system and without CMS, no office can spend their budget. It's a great contribution of RHD MIS. In these aspects the RHD became champion in 'Digital Innovation Fair 2011', organised by A2I (Access to Information) under the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

As a leading road agency under the Roads Transport and Highway Division of the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges, the RHD is increasingly relying on information system for engineering and managerial decision making, keeping this goal in view. It developed necessary infrastructures to support information technology. The RHD is committed to maintain fairness and transparency in all its activities. Accordingly, it has introduced e-Government Procurement (e-GP) system. The national electronic government procurement portal (WWW.epreocure.gov.bd) has been developed, established and maintained by the Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) of Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) under the Ministry of Planning. The e-GP is implemented under the Public Procurement Reform Project-II (PPRP-II) supported by the World Bank.

The objective of the PPRP-II is to expand the e-GP networking and its scope in a way that the key sectorial agencies are under full e-GP system within three years, demonstrating fair play, value for money, transparency, and open competition with enhanced accountability. Under the PPRP-II, this component achieved design and implementation of e-GP in the areas of publication of notice and contract awards.

The World Bank is working with the IMED to improve performance of the public procurement system progressively by focusing largely on four target agencies. And the RHD is one of those agencies that have achieved the World Bank target.

AWARDING CONTRACT VALUE AND CONTRACT PUBLISHED BY E-GP: As against World Bank's target for fiscal 2012-2013 to bring under e-GP system 100 tenders, the RHD scored 172 tenders. The RHD published 1,674 tenders through e-GP portal in 2013-2014 as against the WB target of 1,400, 3,044 tenders in 2014-2015 against a target of 2,400, 3,429 tenders in 2015-2016 against a target of 3,200.

The Chief Engineer, RHD has declared that all tenders would be published through e-GP and accordingly the number of tenders being published through e-GP portal is increasing day by day. The graph shows the picture. All RHD engineers work with e-GP because it is free from hassles and political pressure; they can publish tenders in e-GP portal and this is the main achievement of e-GP. Engineers may work from home since this is an online platform. If there is internet connection, it is convenient to work in e-GP.

The RHD has been on track in implementing e-GP in its procuring entities (PEs). It has good response from bidders to the system which is hassle-free, safe and secure and they can send their documents online from home and this is why they use e-GP. The e-GP system is an online platform for public procurement by procuring agencies (PAs) and procuring entities (PEs) of the government. This is the only web portal by which procuring agencies and entities can conduct public procurement through a secure web portal. The e-GP system has been hosted at the Central Data Centre of CPTU. The PAs and PEs can have access to the web portal by using the internet. The system will gradually be rolled out to all government PAs and PEs.

Therefore, it is creating wider opportunities for competition in the process of public procurement. The government is sincere in ensuring effective use of e-GP as it enhances skills, improves transparency and accountability in the procurement of goods, works and services. The government has declared the e-GP guidelines as per section 65 of the Public Procurement Act 2006. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the e-GP portal (www.eprocure.gov.bd) on June 02, 2011 and asked all government agencies to conduct public procurement through e-GP. From Graph II one can see the trends of awarded tenders that were published through e-GP portal during the fiscal year and that the volume of contract value is increasing day by day. That is the beauty of e-GP.

FISCAL YEAR-WISE RHD TENDERS PUBLISHED: Graph III shows the number of tender published through e-gp portal during the fiscal year. The number of contract is increasing day by day through e-GP portal. Because, in RHD all tenders are published by e-GP portal in accordance with rules and regulations.

ZONE/WING-WISE E-GP TENDER: Chart I shows the number of tenders which are published in e-GP portal. In RHD there are 10 Field Zones -- Dhaka, Mymenshing, Barishal, Cumilla, Rangpur, Khulna, Rajshahi, Gopalgonj, Sylhet and Chattogram. Two wings -- Management Services Wing and Technical Services Wing -- in Mechanical Zone under the headquarters published tenders using e-GP portal. So one can see all tender information at a glance.

The RHD procures significant amount of goods, and services and hire contractors for carrying out works every year. To meet this requirement, a large pool of bidders/contractors in Bangladesh are exclusively involved in supplying these goods, providing services and carrying out assigned jobs. The RHD allows bidders to participate in tenders/request for proposal for these procurements through using e-GP portal.

The bidders face various problems during submission of bid/proposal through e-GP software and accordingly bidders contact to the RHD personnel to assist them in submitting the bid/proposal.

Considering the problems faced by the bidders, the RHD arranges training programme for them. At this stage some 500 bidders will be trained up. The main purpose of the training is to disseminate knowledge about bid submission processes in e-GP. The training contents mainly are: Registration of bidders in e-GP software, document attachment during registration, payment procedure for registration, proposal submission with document attachment, financial proposal submission, price encryption and decryption procedure, e-tender and annual procurement plan.

Several training programmes for bidders were held in Rajshahi Zone, Chattogram Zone, Khulna Zone, Dhaka Zone, Mymenshing Zone, Jashore Circle, and RHD Headquarters. About 200 bidders from Munshiganj, Manikganj, Narsingdi, Gazipur, Dhaka, Mymenshing, Kishoregonj, Netrokona, Jamalpur, Sherpur, Tangail, Rajshahi, Nawabganj, Chattogram, Jashore, Sylhet, Sunamgonj, Natore, Pabna, Narail, Khulna, Habiganj, Moulvibazar, Rangamati, Khagrachhari, Bandarban, and Cox's Bazar participated in the e-GP training sessions.

The RHD has bidders' database styled Tenderers' Database Management System (TDMS). By this database the RHD evaluates tender transparently and it's the innovation and for this the RHD from Bangladesh won South Asian Procurement Innovation Award 2017 organised by the World Bank.

There is a digital archive facility at the RHD, by which it archives all available old data and for this good practice, the RHD became winner from Bangladesh, of South Asian Procurement Innovation and Good Practice Award 2018 organised by the World Bank.

CONCLUSION: The RHD uses ICT in all its activities such as budget and payment using powerful CMS system. The RHD is the only government organisation which uses ICT before and after procurement. ICT helps any organisation to maintain transparency and accountability. ICT helps the RHD in managing information properly -- with the help of ICT, RHD can manage data and produce data as it wants and needs. The Roads and Highways Department is the pioneering government agency in introducing digital operations, contributing to establishment of a Digital Bangladesh.

Kazi Sayeda Momtaz is a senior System Analyst at Roads and Highways Department.

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