Procurement monitoring

Useful information and resources for anyone looking to better understand or report on irregular practices during the procurement process.

System Weaknesses

It is essential that the decision-making in respect of procurements and public contracting is done by administrative/technical staff inside departments/organs of state. Political duty-bearers, for example MECs, should have no involvement whatsoever, at any stage of the procurement process. This includes preventing their presence on BSCs BECs and BACs, preventing their influence on the decisions made in these committees, as well as any “passage whispers” which may occur to influence decision-making.

What to do if you discover problems or flaws in the procurement process

  • Civil society organisations can undertake social audits and present findings to the relevant procuring entity concerned. 
  • Report any failures or concerns or abuses to the relevant accounting officer of the procuring entity concerned. Accounting officers/authorities are described here. 
  • Contact the political head of the procuring entity e.g. the MEC
  • Communicate with the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) in Parliament
  • Complain to the Presidential Hotline (17737 or
  • Contact Corruption Watch
  • If the procuring entity is a Municipality, complain to the Municipality’s complaints hotline (if it has one)
  • Complain to the Public Protector’s Office, including provincial offices of the Public Protector’s Office.
  • Some Cities and Provinces have Ombudsmen to receive complaints. 
  • Ensure that suppliers that have failed to perform have been listed on the Database of Restricted Suppliers. 
  • In terms of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act 3 of 2000, an interested party is entitled to ask for reasons for an administrative decision. The award of a tender is an administrative decision for which reasons must be provided.

Useful Example

What if a school is not built?
  • An interested party can approach a Court to obtain an order enforcing the terms of the contract;
  • The Accounting Officer can recommend to National Treasury to restrict/blacklist the said supplier from doing business with the state for violation of a contract or poor performance for a period not longer than 10 years.

Consequences of an invalid tender award

  • If a tender has been invalidly awarded, the procuring entity will have no authority to conclude the contract for the provision of a good or service.
  • A court of law can be approached to overturn a tender award.

What questions to ask to interrogate a flawed or inappropriate contract

The International Budget Partnership (IBP) manual chapters 19 to 22 lists some of the questions you may want to ask yourself while examining information for each stage of the procurement process.

Questions taken directly from the IBP manual:

  • Are the items to be procured consistent with the needs identified in the needs assessment?
  • Does the procurement plan clearly identify the goods or services to be procured?
  • Have any unnecessary items been included in the procurement plan?
  • Is the timing of the planned procurement reasonable to ensure that the goods or services will be delivered when and as often as they are needed?
  • Is the procurement method appropriate? For example, is sole source bidding being proposed when competitive bidding is really required? To find out more about the different methods that government departments can use to procure goods or services, see Chapter 2.
  • In the case of an infrastructure project, is the planned project unnecessary or too big?If government intends to build a new hospital in a certain area, for example, is there a need for a new hospital, or such a big hospital?
  • Would repairs or upgrades to infrastructure have been more appropriate than new infrastructure? For example, if a school building is structurally sound, would building additional classrooms, or maintenance to existing classrooms, have been more appropriate than building a new school?

These questions are adapted from the Procurement Monitoring Guide of Transparency International USA (2012)