Kazakhstan undertook numerous legal reforms of the public procurement system in recent years. While this reflects the commitment to modernise, it also creates difficulties for public procurers who have to adapt to the new laws. Streamlining the system would allow Kazakhstan to fully exploit the potential of procurement and achieve greater value for money. An excessive use of direct procurement, a high number of failed bids, as well as a lack of integration of the market conditions are among the obstacles to a more efficient system.
The national e-procurement system has been expanded, and now almost all procedures are conducted electronically. This coverage of 6.1 million contracts is exemplary as it represents a large share of the procurement system. Aside from the laudable improvements in terms of process management, more could be done to better collect data and aggregate statistics. The collected data could also be used to a greater extent for evaluation and performance management.
While integrity measures exist, Kazakhstan has not yet developed a procurement-specific strategy. The country has made efforts to broaden its complaints management system, but it could increase the opportunities for direct involvement of relevant external stakeholders and address the issue of “professional complainers” who slow down the mechanism.
Public procurement in Kazakhstan is still predominantly perceived as an administrative rather than a strategic function. Changing this perception could allow for further development of strategic considerations, which requires an adequately skilled public procurement workforce. However, public procurement is currently not recognised as a profession, and training for procurers is mainly focused on law and compliance.
Many issues that are prevalent in the public procurement system of Kazakhstan also apply to the procurement of state-owned enterprises (SOEs). These include extensive use of single source procurement and low level of competition in procurement procedures. Previously, there were important differences in the legal and regulatory frameworks of SOEs and the government procurement sector. The most recent reform eliminated some discrepancies, but potential for further alignment remains.