It is unknown on what basis the Serbian Ministry of Interior plans the quality, quantity, and timing of procuring parts of police uniforms.
By Marija Ignjatijević (BCSP) / Illustration: Marko Marinković
The Ministry of Interior in 2014 signed the half-million Euros contract for a delivery of 14.500 combat boots for police officers in Serbia with the company “Gepard” from Novi Sad. The Society against Corruption, civil society organization from Serbia, carried out a performance assessment of procurement in order to answer the questions whether this procurement procedure met the real needs and whether there is a system of planning in the Ministry which would contribute to the public procurement performance. The findings point to a series of shortcomings in the planning, implementation, and execution of the public procurement contract.
The planning system within Ministry of Interior is not sufficiently developed. The internal regulations dealing with the uniform renewal are not finalized and thus, it is not known on what grounds the Ministry based their plan for procurement of uniforms. The lack of regulation in this area leaves room for misuse by the contractor and, consequently, can adversely affect the expediency of the procurements. The minimum of quality is determined on a case-by-case basis which influences the efficiency of the procurement and hinders the creation of realistic market competition.
Serious shortcomings are identified in the implementation phase of the procurement. The Contract on the Procurement was concluded after the envisaged legal deadline. The price was 30% lower than the estimated value and almost 20% lower than the next best offer. The Ministry has failed to provide an explanation for this “unusually low” price, based on which the quality of combat boots can be questioned. Furthermore, it’s necessary to take into account an article written by the Serbian Police Union, which challenged the fact that the purchased combat boots match the stipulated quality.
Several challenges in procurement performance are recognized in the final implementation phase. The contract with the “Gepard” was realized upon the expiration of the legal deadline and it is unknown whether the Ministry charged the supplier with penalties, as stipulated by the contract. Additionally, there were serious doubts over the quality and quantity of the received goods, which were questioned several times.
The Ministry of Interior should implement several recommendations in order to resolve difficulties in the planning, implementation, and execution of the public procurement contract. The Ministry should specify standards for the equipment, following the steps and good practice of the Ministry of Defence in Serbia. It’s important to precisely define the dynamics of uniform renewal, in order to make procurements predictable. Also, it is required to appropriately inform employees on the possibilities of replacement of inadequate uniforms.
General control over the procurement procedure and contract realization should be intensified in order to ensure the compliance with the deadlines and proper quality control. External oversight of the procurement performance can be much enhanced if the Rulebook on Internal Organization and Jobs Systematization within the Ministry of Interior is available to the public.
The procurement performance assessment of combat boots was conducted within the framework of the PRO-CURE project aimed at strengthening the transparency and accountability of the public procurement in the security sector by enhancing the civil oversight.