This two-day event was organised by the General Treasury of the Kingdom of Morocco in collaboration with the OECD within the framework of the Good Governance for Development (GfD) in Arab Countries Initiative. Held in Rabat, Morocco, the event included the Regional Conference on Enhancing Integrity in Public Procurement, organised back-to-back with the Workshop on Sharing Good Practices for Enhancing Integrity in Public Procurement.
The opening remarks were given by H. E. Mr. Salaheddine Mezouar, Minister of Economy and Finance, followed by Mr. Saïd Ibrahimi, General Secretary of the Treasury of the Kingdom of Morocco and Mr. Christian Vergez, Head of Division, Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate (GOV) of the OECD.
The high participation rate confirmed Arab countries’ interest in the issue of promoting integrity and preventing corruption in public procurement. Twelve Arab countries participated, namely Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, the Palestinian National Authority, Qatar, Tunisia, Yemen and numerous representatives of the Moroccan host country. In addition, experts from 6 OECD countries (Belgium, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Spain, and Turkey) as well as from 7 international organisations (the African Development Bank, the European Commission, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) attended the event. The overall number of participants was 260 on the first meeting day. Forty-five selected procurement experts participated in the workshop discussions on the second day.
The main objectives of this two-day event were to:
The Regional Conference provided the opportunity to present the results of the Joint Learning Study on Integrity in Public Procurement in Morocco and to highlight the specificities of the OECD methodology used in the completion of this pilot study. The analytical framework of the Joint Learning Study is based on the OECD Draft Checklist on Enhancing Integrity in Public Procurement. The draft Checklist provides a policy framework with ten key recommendations to reinforce integrity and public trust in how public funds are managed.
Discussions at the Regional Conference focused on
1) sharing experiences of the pilot Joint Learning Study with participants,
2) defining a sufficient degree of transparency to ensure integrity in public procurement,
3) identifying steps to make decision makers in public procurement more accountable, and
4) determining the role of new technologies in public procurement.
The Workshop provided opportunity for in-depth discussions between public procurement practitioners to share good practices in their countries related to specific points of the pubic procurement system such as preventive measures in risk areas of public procurement vulnerable to corruption, professionalisation and recourse mechanisms for complaints in procurement.
This two-day event achieved its stated objectives and provided a series of possible follow-up actions, such as:
Establishment of a network of procurement specialists in the MENA region
The first tangible outcome of the meeting consisted of the identification of procurement specialists in the MENA region and establishing a network of public procurement experts. This network consists of procurement specialists from Arab countries, as well as experts from OECD countries and international organisations.
Explicit interest in the Joint Learning Study
Participants discussed and approved the findings and major policy recommendations of the Joint Learning Study on Integrity in Public Procurement in Morocco. Participating Arab countries showed explicit interest in launching the Joint Learning Study in their specific country context. For instance, Yemen and the Palestinian National Authority stated that they would be willing to participate in a similar exercise in order to evaluate their public procurement systems, focusing in particular on the fight against corruption. The event also supported the preparation of the OECD Global Forum on Integrity in Public Procurement, to be held in Paris in November 2008. The Global Forum will bring together experts from different regions of the world to exchange experience and explore development of new tools. It will also provide an opportunity to share the findings of the pilot Joint Learning Study in an international setting.
Approval of the OECD methodology applied in the Joint Learning Study
Participants gained a deeper understanding of the OECD methodology used for the completion of the Joint Learning Study. They welcomed the application of the OECD methodology and emphasised its two key features. The joint learning activities are, on one hand, “joint” activities which require close cooperation between Arab countries and the OECD Secretariat and, on the other hand, “learning” activities as all experts involved in the exercise – both from OECD countries and from Arab countries alike – can learn from the other country experts. Participants agreed on the feasibility and usefulness of the OECD approach and its application in the MENA region.
Closer co-operation with the private sector
As an immediate follow-up the Regional Conference and as a sign of closer co-operation, the General Treasury of the Kingdom of Morocco and representatives of the Moroccan private sector decided to launch a joint effort on how to reinforce co-operation between these two main actors of the public procurement process in order to ensure proper application of the new Moroccan Public Procurement Code. This closer co-operation could lead to a seminar to which representatives from the Moroccan private sector, civil society and also the OECD would be invited.
Bilateral follow-up actions
Last, but not least, several bilateral actions may be considered for the future, including closer co-operation in the domain of the role of new technologies in public procurement and, more specifically, the elements and effective functioning of a national e-procurement portal. More concretely, Dubai, as well as Belgium, have already shown interest in contributing their experience to the Moroccan e-portal. Also, the Association of Moroccan Public Procurement Professionals expressed interest in co-operating with the Association for Public Procurement in France (APASP – Association Pour l’Achat du Service Public), in particular in the project on setting up an international network of public procurement professionals.
Ms María de Los Angeles Trigo Quiroga, National Auditor, General Control of State Administration (IGAE), Ministry of Economy and Finance, Spain (eng)
Ms Caroline Nicholas, United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) (eng)
Mr. Mohamed Saad Alaoui, Project Manager, Integrated Public Finance Management, General Treasury, Morocco (fr)
Mr. Jean-Pierre Bueb, Consultant, France (fr)