Maintaining integrity in the procurement space


By Alvin A. MINGLE

The procurement sector in Ghana remains a critical component of the nation’s economy, playing a crucial role in the efficient allocation of resources, fostering competition, ensuring quality delivery of goods & services, and guaranteeing that public and private sector projects are executed effectively. The bedrock of procurement, is openness and transparency in all our interactions with stakeholders, underpinned by integrity and ethical behavior by all procurement professionals.

Maintaining integrity within this space, however, seems to remain a significant challenge in both the private and public sectors. Integrity, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), is the quality of being honest and having strong moral values. According to C.S Lewis, the literary scholar, integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.

In this article, we highlight the importance of transparency, accountability, and ethical practices to uphold the integrity of Ghana’s procurement processes across both private and public sectors.

Fitzgerald-Bassey Consultancy Limited, with over three decades of procurement practice and management of procurement teams, has identified a lack of integrity and corruption as key determinants in devaluing the benefits of procurement to organizations, and the nation as a whole. This lack of integrity, which subsequently leads to corrupt practices is one of the banes within the procurement sector.


Corruption, according to the OED, is dishonest or illegal behaviour especially in people of authority. Corruption involves actions that benefit the corrupt party whilst harming others. Corruption in procurement manifests in various forms, such as:

  • bribery,
  • favoritism,
  • dubious sole/single sourcing,
  • deliberate overpricing
  • over & under-invoicing, and
  • manipulation of procurement procedures for personal gain.

Corruption does not thrive in a vacuum but tends to thrive under these circumstances:

  • Weak control measure
  • Institutional ineffectiveness: Failure to operationalize anti-corruption measures.
  • Lack of Risk Management

These unethical practices do not only inflate costs but also result in the selection of subpar and substandard contractors, leading to poor-quality execution and delayed project completion. This has a domino effect throughout the organization with subsequent decline in profitability, growth, and a negative impact the economy as a whole.

Combating corruption within procurement, requires a multifaceted approach, involving strict enforcement of procurement policies and procedures, regular “value for money” audits, and a robust whistleblower protection mechanism. Over the years, this has often been characterized by mere lip service across various sectors.

Documented procedures for handling breaches of these codes of conduct must be included in all procurement policies and procedures. This will enable trust and longevity in all operations. As a matter of urgency, we need to appreciate the essence and cost-saving value that the enforcement of laws against procurement breaches will have on organisations and the country as a whole.

Ethical Procurement:

To foster an ethical procurement ecosystem which thrives on integrity and honesty, we must have well defined policies & procedures, and ethical codes of conduct which are documented and well communicated to procurement teams and all stakeholders. Conditions of transparency and honesty must be created to disable and dismantle corrupt practices.

Openness & Transparency:

Ensuring a fair and equitable procurement system must be fundamentally based on openness and transparency. Our basic practice as procurement professionals should be that procurement processes are open and accessible to the public or shareholders, which helps reduces the risk of corruption. The publication of bids should not be done just to tick the sourcing box, fulfil a clause of the law, or escape accusations of procurement breaches. They should be done openly to gain the trust and confidence of the people and organisations we serve.

As an organization that has championed an e-supplier web-based system, we can confidently advise that e-procurement platforms can enhance competitiveness by providing equal opportunities for all qualified bidders, thereby promoting fairness, and reducing biases. This helps streamline procurement processes and makes information readily available to all stakeholders.


Procurement without accountability is a ship that will undoubtedly hit the rocks. They go hand in hand. For procurement processes to be trusted and robust, all parties involved must be held accountable for their actions. The importance of having clear and enforceable policies that delineate responsibilities and consequences for misconduct stands tall among the list of things procurement professionals and organizations need to do to maintain integrity.

To enhance this, organizations and practitioners should invest in regular training and capacity-building programmes for procurement officials to help them become well-versed in ethical standards and best practices, fostering a culture of integrity and accountability.

The involvement of civil society and the media can also play a significant role in maintaining integrity in the procurement sector. Independent watchdog organizations and investigative journalism can help uncover irregularities and bring them to public attention. As procurement practitioners, we highly advocate for a collaborative approach where government agencies, private sector entities, and civil society work together to monitor and improve procurement practices, address breaches, and prevent them from occurring.

Furthermore, the establishment of an independent procurement oversight body can provide an additional layer of scrutiny and ensure compliance with established standards. This independent body, devoid of any government involvement or supervision, should have the authority to conduct investigations, impose sanctions, and recommend improvements to existing procurement regulations. By having an autonomous entity overseeing procurement activities, the chances of impartial and thorough examinations increase, thereby boosting public confidence in the system and among procurement practitioners.

In conclusion, maintaining integrity in the Ghanaian procurement space is essential for sustainable development and economic growth. We underscore the need for a comprehensive strategy that includes stronger controls within procurement teams and organisations, enhancing transparency, ensuring accountability, engaging civil society, and establishing independent oversight. By addressing these key areas, Ghana can build  robust procurement systems that not only meets international standards but also serves as a model for other nations striving to achieve similar goals.

>>>the writer is the Senior Managing Partner at Fitzgerald-Bassey Consultancy Limited

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