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Is Transparent Procurement for Government a Double-edged Sword?

Transparent procurement for government is the belief that honesty and integrity aid in the delivery of better value for money. Over 200 years ago President Thomas Jefferson remarked, “we might hope to see the finances as clear and intelligible as a merchant’s books, so that every member of Congress, and every mind in the Union should be able to comprehend them, to investigate abuses, and consequently, to control them.”

The need for transparency across procurement operations has since become a hot topic within the social spectrum. Government agencies set transparency so that citizens can see how their taxes are being spent against what is delivered, but is this a fair means of disclosure and does the government always comply with these best interests?

The Life of Transparency in Government

Modern technology transformed the ideals of transparency into a reality that is readily-accessible for anyone with internet access. In 2003, the American government introduced the Public Procurement Act (PPA) as a means to announcing public procurement measures, ensuring money could be saved by cutting out the risk of dubious practice going unnoticed. The primary objective of the PPA was to create cost-effective implementations of public sector activities that are devoid of corruption, allowing the true meaning of transparency to be utilized.

Better value for money, encouraged investment, positive innovation and reduction of corruption are just some of the benefits transparent procurement offers. Greater transparency creates a wealth of positive opportunities for businesses, particularly small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who rely on consumer branding and trust. Businesses that gain knowledge of public spending also stand to benefit when choosing outside suppliers, or when seeking a collectivized stance when competing for public sector contracts.

Why is Social Media Important During Transparent Procurement?

When stepping into the public arena, transparency may create problems when sourcing individual buyers. The question of suitable or existing buyers may also arise if ethics are exposed within the public arena, or that reflect on the initiating company. Instead of enriching their marketplace or increasing revenue, companies and even the government at large may now see these investment opportunities as a liability. The subsequent withdrawal can affect others on a local to national basis.

Whether or not social media could be used as a way for vendors to influence this selection process has since been overridden by social media participation and users abilities to decide for them. Not even high-brow companies or the government is immune from slanderous attacks or allegations made on social media networks, though many businesses adopt the Cone of Silence to ensure that social and public transparency does not inadvertently create liability. Companies are also encouraged to monitor their personnel when posting comments on social media platforms and the government has a dedicated press team to monitor their reputation in the public arena.

Putting it all Together

Due to the nature of transparent procurement for government, these debates will inevitably continue to present themselves as a hot-topic. The manner in which a government conducts itself will always be of public interest, but transparency can affect businesses and other streams of income in ways that was not previously considered. So long as the transparency is carried out with the vested interests of the public, the opportunities for growth remain strong and can be overcome with common sense and applied responsibilities.

October 11, 2012
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BY Bellwether

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