Innovation and collaboration for rapid results in public procurement

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The World Bank’s Governance Global Practice (GGP) is integrating its approach to address technical and political constraints to effective public procurement in Cameroon.
In efforts to boost efficiency and integrity in public spending, the Government of Cameroon created the Ministry of Public Procurement (MINMAP), the first of its kind in the world, to take responsibility for providing oversight to public contract procurement and management. It is also in charge of executing high value contracts on behalf of all sector ministries and designing public procurement policies and capacity development strategies in partnership with the pre-existing public procurement regulatory body (ARMP).

This institutional shake-up has created confusion regarding contracting responsibilities and reduced incentives for key public investment management actors to collaborate for best results. In turn, this has hampered the Government’s ability to spend its capital investment budget and boost public service delivery. For example, the budget execution rate for the year after the reform only attained 34%, and unit prices have been registering above market rates.
To tackle these barriers to performance and realize the ultimate objectives of the recent reform, the Governance Global Practice, led by the Public Integrity and Openness Department (PIO), has partnered with the Government and adopted an innovative combination of approaches to identify solutions at the technical, institutional, and behavioral levels. The engagement kicked off in March 2015 with the launch of a Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) to improve procurement performance for a priority set of high value contracts pending for the Ministry of Public Works (MINTP), including contracts in the national investment budget and those funded by the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB). 
The RRI methodology includes setting a challenging, concrete objective and coordinating the relevant actors as a single team that will achieve it. The approach seeks to create an environment for innovation by incentivizing and empowering the team to “think outside the box” and tailor its process in an explicitly results-oriented way. Above all, the RRI approach ensures political buy-in at the highest levels of the institutions involved to untangle conflicting incentives and encourage genuine collaboration. It has been employed successfully for anti-corruption and public sector governance initiatives, and is now being applied in the public procurement context for the first time by the integrated GGP team.
For this RRI, members of MINMAP, MINTP, ARMP and the project teams met and finalized ambitious work plans to reach project-specific steps in the contracting process ahead of schedule and with high levels of quality. As a result of this collaboration, many minor coordination and communication issues that were resulting in larger performance problems were identified and met with appropriate solutions. While the ARMP will take the lead in monitoring the work plans and arranging biweekly progress meetings for the team, the World Bank will use its convening power to assist the Government in succeeding in the RRI and scaling up the lessons learned to the broader portfolio and other key sectors.
One method for achieving this will be to incorporate the results of the RRI into a Procurement Value Chain Analysis. This diagnostic aims to provide empirical evidence of the efficiency and quality of the procurement system performance as a whole and provide the Government with a set of recommendations that will improve outcomes and maximize the impact of its reform efforts in the short and medium term.
With this sequenced program of interventions aimed to support public procurement system stakeholders as both technicians and institutional actors, the GGP is taking a multi-faceted approach that builds on the expertise of its integrated team and tackles governance challenges at their roots.


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