Peer Reviewed: The law of Government Procurement in South Africa

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LexisNexis.jpgIn SmartProcurement’s May Newsletter, we discussed the Public Procurement Law Review’s opinions on Phoebe Bolton’s new legal work ‘The Law of Government Procurement in South Africa’. This month, SmartProcurement publishes a review of the book by Mr Isac Smith, director Supply Chain Management at the Western Cape Department of Health.

‘The Law of Government Procurement In South Africa’, Lexis Nexis Butterworth, ISBN 9780 4090 2318, R495.90

The author: Professor Phoebe Bolton, Bproc, LLB, LLM, LLD (UWC), Associate Professor of Law, University of the Western Cape

The reviewer: Mr Isac Smith, the Director Supply Chain Management, Department of Health, Provincial Government Western Cape, was previously with the Department of Treasury WC and in that capacity headed up (the now abolished) Provincial Tender Board Office. There after, he served at senior level in the National Department of Treasury where he was directly responsible for policy and pioneered the procurement driven '10-Point Plan'; where after he transferred to his present position.

Isac Smith concurs fully with the view of the 'Public Procurement Law Review' that Bolton’s book is the first work to comprehensively deal with public procurement law in South Africa. "It is a highly recommended read for all practitioners and professionals involved in the public sector procurement function. I will be applying it as an educational tool in my department to assist newcomer's and managers to get to grips with, and understand, the complex legislative and regulatory framework that governs procurement in all organs of state" Smith told SmartProcurement .

"The book covers the important aspects of public procurement, clearly explains the relevant procurement law and what has been achieved in regards to procurement policy, procedures and best practise since 1994. Take my own department, (Provincial Government Health WC), since the abolition of the tender boards, the authority has devolved down to departmental heads without affording us access to the private legal counsel that the tender boards heavily relied on. A good understanding of the law is hence an important knowledge base for all senior practitioners”, said Smith.

Bolton has clearly explained the complex legal framework as underpinned by section 217 of the Constitution in an easily read format. She goes on to unpack all the important areas of practice relating to RFT, awards, the principles of equity and fairness and, the application of significant laws like the Preferential Procurement Act. “Here she is (in my experience), the first to write on the power of the PPPFA as a national economic policy tool in the hands of government. She does it beautifully", enthused Smith.

Smith enjoyed the writing style as it is easily read by most people, regardless of their previous experience. Consequently, it is a very useful education tool and will in time contribute to the increased professionalism of public sector procurement. You can take the book and unpack it chapter for chapter with your colleagues and staff.
For instance, understanding the legal framework which applies to governance and ethical conduct is an issue. This stems from the power government officials have to contract. What are the consequences when an official signs a contract and in the process oversteps the bounds of his authority? Bolton deals with these and other similar questions, said Smith

“I will have no hesitation in recommending this book to my colleagues and fellow SCM practitioners in the public service," concluded Smith.

Editors note: In the 2nd part of this review by Isac Smith, due out on 8th July 2009 he will deal with it's relevance to practical aspects of the practitioner's needs such as, value for money in the different methods of procurement (contracts, tenders and negotiations), and the big differences in procurement practice pre- and post 1994.

Contact: Lexis Nexis Customer Services Department on 0860 765 432.

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