After working across the donor, private and NGO sectors for over 15 years and being heavily involved in how procurement is designed, here’s what I’ve noticed:
Often communities are involved in very quick design processes (as procurement is running late) through rapid needs assessments and selective focus groups.
Evaluations of previous funding cycles play a critical role – evaluation teams are often made up of seasoned professionals – who may bring their own biases. Fresh ideas and diverse teams are often missing from the design process.
I’ve been privileged to coordinate procurement processes which involve the host government collaborating with the funders. Communities and users often have no say in which agency provides their services – they have little-no purchasing power. Perhaps I am wrong?
The procurement is competitive in some cases. Detailed Request for Proposals. Some agencies are funded without any procurement process at all. Often agencies feel like they are all competing for the same pot of money – so they end up providing the same kinds of services. Health agencies start providing wider services like education; education agencies start providing health services – so differentiation becomes difficult and specialisations diminish.
This private sector approach tendering is mismatched with the nature of the work. The market has become narrow and focused – stifling creativity and innovation.
The power is with those agencies who write proposals well and can pass due diligence – so local/grass roots agencies often do not lead big projects.