Procurement is the purchasing of product components, standard raw materials, customised supplies, and other goods needed to conduct business operations. e-Procurement applies Information and Communication (ICT) technologies to the buying process in the supply chain. Electronic public procurement not only makes it easier for enterprises to identify contract opportunities and to supply their goods and services, but can also save money and time for both businesses and administrations and decrease the potential risk of corruption.
However, there are certain challenges to e-Procurement implementation. One of the major issues concerning e-Procurement initiatives is security. The growing number of cyber crimes has added doubts regarding the reliability of the Internet. The problem is further compounded by the absence of security culture among end users. Security measures such as authentication and encryption are therefore very important while passing sensitive information. Another major issue concerning e-Procurement is the type of goods that are procured through the online medium. Companies usually prefer to source smaller, inexpensive goods such as office stationery. There are also issues relating to software and catalogue integration. The various modules of e-Procurement, such as supplier registration, indent management, e-Tendering, catalogue management, contract management, e-Auction, e-Payment, accounting and management information systems, need to work together in an integrated manner to seamlessly handle the processes involved in procurement of works, goods and services. Only when an integrated e-Procurement system is in place, the government can enable the ‘transformation’ of public procurement.
In this issue of egov magazine, we have focussed on e-Procurement in government and have covered experiences from various government agencies, such as Indian Railways, state governments such as Andhra Pradesh, the pioneer in implementing e-Procurement in India and Chhattisgarh, which is moving fast ahead in e-Procurement implementation, apart from covering the private sector viewpoint on public e-Procurement. We have also covered the initiative taken by the European Union through a pilot project called Pan-European Public Procurement Online (PEPPOL), which builds on the current e-Procurement activities at the national level and facilitates the electronic cross border exchange of orders, invoices, and catalogues. Hope, you would enjoy reading this edition of the magazine. We look forward to your suggestions and comments.