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Professionalizing public procurement in Vietnam

Kien Trung Tran's picture
World Bank-financed school in Vietnam's Can Tho province. Photo: World Bank

Vietnam spends an estimated US$25 billion in goods and services each year. Recognizing that an efficient public procurement system is essential to delivering quality public services in a timely manner, the Government has set a mandate to professionalize the public procurement function.

But Vietnam’s procurement system is highly decentralized among 63 provinces with a total of 715 districts and 11,164 communes across the country most of which handle procurement. These various administrative layers make it challenging for the Public Procurement Agency (PPA), which is tasked with building capacity and professionalizing public procurement cadres, to accomplish its goals. The Agency needed financial and technical support.

Together with international development partners, the World Bank has been assisting the PPA since 1996. The Bank has helped the Agency conduct a national needs assessment and develop the first-ever national strategy for public procurement professionalization and capacity building. This strategy, adopted and approved by the Minister of Planning and Investment in 2013, includes five key elements:

  • Development of a comprehensive set of standardized quality training materials; 
  • Formation of a core group of Public Procurement Trainers and delivery of a Training of Trainers (TOT) program;
  • Professionalization of public procurement function;
  • Strengthening the technical capacity of training institutions nationwide; and
  • Facilitating the participation of small and medium enterprises in public procurement.
The Bank has also provided financing to implement this strategy. The Agency contracted the International Training Center of the International Labor Organization(ILO-ITC), one of the leading global training institutions on public procurement, to develop a comprehensive curriculum for procurement professionals. A set of standardized training materials and tests were also developed for foundational and professional training courses. These training materials incorporate international best practices with customization to the country’s conditions. Once approved by the PPA, these materials will be applied nationwide helping substantially improve quality of existing training programs.

Using these training materials, the Public Procurement Agency will carry out several “training of trainers” courses. These trainers will in turn train thousands of procurement practitioners and government officials at all levels throughout the country using new knowledge they have gained.

The World Bank will continue to closely support Vietnam and other countries in the East Asia and Pacific region in the coming years to professionalize their public procurement systems to deliver sustainable development outcomes. In fact, the theme of the upcoming 2nd ASEAN Countries Public Procurement Knowledge Exchange, which will be held in Bangkok in November 2017 is "Professionalization of Public Procurement to Deliver Sustainable Development Outcomes". Participants from 10 ASEAN countries, observers from other countries in East Asia region, Development Partners and several international experts will get together to share their experiences in this area and build stronger capacity in public procurement.  

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