Local Authority Procurement System Implementation (LK0011)
Action Plan: Sri Lanka National Action Plan 2016-2018
Action Plan Cycle: 2016
Lead Institution: Local Government Authorities
Support Institution(s): Ministry of Provincial Councils and Local Government & Procurement Commission; Federation of Sri Lankan Local Govt. Authorities
Policy AreasLegislation & Regulation, Open Contracting and Procurement, Oversight of Budget/Fiscal Policies, Public Participation, Subnational
Timeline: August 2016- June 2018
Local Authorities are the closest governance entity to citizens providing essential services from “Womb to tomb”. The services provided by Local Authorities are financed by transfers from the Central and/or Provincial Governments or from revenue generated by the Local Authorities. The procurement procedure in the Local Authorities is generally guided by the system that is universal to all state entities. Nevertheless the difference is that Local Authorities are legally an incorporated body that has a legal identity and status of an independent unit, hence the procurement procedures can only be supervised and guided not mandated and enforced. Local Authorities are responsible for most of the medium to small scale infrastructure development activities that are taking place at village and city levels including improving thoroughfares, markets, crematoriums, parks etc. In addition, there are many services that are delivered to citizens including waste management, libraries, free clinics, recreation facilities, which are procured by the councils independently.
In terms of procurement, currently there are two systems that are being followed i.e. direct award and tender process to procure goods and services and both these methods are done with the approval of the councils. As per the 19th amendment to the Constitution, chapter XIXB a “Procurement Commission” was established and accordingly per clause number 156 (H) the Commission is vested with the powers to formulate fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost effective procedures and guidelines, for the procurement of goods and services, works, consultancy services and information systems by government institutions and cause such guidelines to be published in the Gazette and within three months of such publication, to be placed before Parliament.”
Therefore, under the purview of the “Procurement Commission” it is essential to develop guidelines for Local Authorities to ensure that a transparent and accountable procurement system is implemented. In addition, this guideline needs to provide space for suitable members including representatives from Civil Society to represent in procurement committees established in the councils to minimize malpractices and to be accountable for total procurement processors. 9. Implementation and Monitoring the New System – by all Local Authorities (Monitoring by Commissioners/Assistant Commissioner office of Local Govt.) and civil societies through 'citizens report cards'. New Jan 2018 onwards
10. Establish a transparent grievance redress mechanism to be operative in 3 concurrent forms – online, a telephone hotline and through an ombudsperson in all three languages
New June 2017
IRM End of Term Status Summary
11. Implementation and Monitoring of Local Authority Procurement System
Transparent and Accountable Procurement System for Local Authorities in Sri Lanka (B)
Establish a transparent and accountable procurement system for local authorities (introduce citizen monitoring of implementation and establish a grievance redress mechanism).
- 1 Implementation and Monitoring the New System – by all Local Authorities (Monitoring by Commissioners/Assistant Commissioner office of Local Govt.) and civil societies through 'citizens report cards'
- 2 Establish a transparent grievance redress mechanism to be operative in 3 concurrent forms – online, a telephone hotline and through an ombudsperson in all three languages
Responsible institutions: Ministry of Provincial Councils and Local Government (MPCLG) & Procurement Commission
Supporting institutions: Local Government Authorities, Federation of Sri Lankan Local Government Authorities
Start date: August 2016....... End date: June 2018
Editorial Note: The text of the commitment was abridged for formatting reasons. For full text of the commitment, please see the Sri Lanka National Action Plan 2016–2018 at http://bit.ly/2wv3jXR. 
An extension of Commitment 10, this commitment aimed to strengthen local authority procurement of goods and services with provisions for accountability. This would also help to minimise cases of malpractice and corruption.
Midterm: Not Started
This commitment was not started by the midterm.
Despite positive steps, the Ministry of Provincial Councils and Local Government (MPCLG), the Procurement Commission, and Parliament, had not finalised the procurement guidelines (see Commitment 10). As a result, related stakeholders could not begin monitoring implementation (Milestone 11.1), or establishing a grievance redress mechanism (Milestone 11.2). 
End of term: Not Started
Implementation of the commitment had still not commenced by the end of term. Neither MPCLG, the Procurement Commission, nor Parliament finalised the procurement guidelines, and thus this commitment is not completed. 
According to a civil society representative from the Federation of Sri Lankan Local Government Authorities (FSLGA), no further activities related to implementation of Commitments 10 or 11 could begin until a gazette notification containing the guidelines was published.  The FSLGA representative noted, however, that the draft guidelines did contain an explicit provision for a public grievance redress mechanism. The draft procurement guidelines specify that complaints pertaining to procurement by local authorities could be taken to the Commissioner for Local Government at the provincial level. 
Did It Open Government?
Civic Participation: Did Not Change
Public Accountability: Did Not Change
As implementing stakeholders did not finalise the procurement guidelines, this commitment could not be completed and, thus, did not contribute to opening government.
As indicated in Commitment 10, the absence of clear guidelines to direct the process of procurement by local authorities heightened the potential for malpractice and corruption.  This commitment aimed to address this by introducing a) a mechanism for monitoring implementation of the procurement guidelines, and b) a grievance redress mechanism for citizens to hold local authorities accountable on the procurement of goods and services.
Sri Lanka’s second action plan was not released by the time of this report.
In the 2016–2017 IRM midterm progress report, the IRM researcher recommended adopting measures to improve the framing of this commitment and, thereby, strengthen its impact. These include: training local authority representatives on how to adhere to the new procurement guidelines and operate the grievance mechanism; and enhancing citizen engagement in the procurement process. Engagement could include social audits, procurement committees, or opening up procurement decisions for public comment.
For more information, see the 2016–2017 IRM midterm progress report.
Contingent on completion of Commitment 10 (the publication of procurement guidelines for local authorities), the IRM researcher reiterates the pertinence of adopting such measures, and recommends this commitment be carried forward.
 In the action plan, the milestones under this commitment are included as part of a single commitment that broadly seeks to establish a transparent and accountable procurement system for local authorities. However, for purposes of clarity, this report separates the evaluation of milestones that pertain to the preparation and publication of procurement guidelines (see Commitment 10) and the evaluation of milestones that pertain to monitoring of implementation and grievance redress (Commitment 11).
 S. Boralessa (Ministry of Provincial Councils and Local Government), interview by IRM researcher, 27 September 2017; Hemanthi Goonasekera (FSLGA), interview by IRM researcher, 22 September 2017.
 Hemanthi Goonasekera (FSLGA), interview by IRM researcher, 17 September 2018.
 It is the primary responsibility of the Procurement Commission to submit the guidelines for approval by Parliament. After having received parliamentary approval, the Procurement Commission must formally gazette the guidelines in order for them to become legally binding.
 Goonasekera, interview.
 Goonasekera, interview, 22 September 2017.
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