HK OGCIO opens procurment to SMEs

Procuring departments are required to split large contracts into smaller ones as far as possible to facilitate participation.

The Office of the Government CIO, Hong Kong is encouraging small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups to participate in government procurements and helping them tap business opportunities that will be conducive to promoting the economic development of Hong Kong in the long run.

In recent years, the Government has introduced a new procurement policy which raises the weighting of the technical aspect in the overall score during tender assessment, and provided a platform through the Smart Government Innovation Lab (Smart LAB) to match the business needs of government departments with the solutions proposed by technology suppliers.

In consultation with the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, our reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:

Secretary for Innovation and Technology, Alfred Sit states since its establishment, the Smart Government Innovation Lab (Smart LAB) has matched 34 business needs from different government bureaux/departments (B/Ds) with technology solutions, covering different technology areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics technology, data analytics, etc. The departments concerned will proceed with procurement according to their needs. We do not keep records of the contractual expenditure and contract period of these procurements.

The e-Tender Box (ETB) system of the Government Logistics Department (GLD) enables B/Ds to handle matters related to the procurement of stores, services and revenue contracts. Registered suppliers can access the system online to download tender documents free of charge, submit tender proposals, enquire on tendering matters, and access tender notices and notices of contract award.

GLD has been endeavouring to enhance the service quality and functions of the ETB. In March 2020, GLD introduced the “Alternative Authentication Method” (AAM) as a new function, whereby tenderers may authenticate their tender submissions in lieu of digital certificates when making submissions via the ETB. AAM, the activation for which is free of charge, could save time and cost required for applying or renewing digital certificates from the relevant recognised certification authorities, thereby facilitating submission of tenders by SMEs and minimising their administrative cost. In addition, with regard to the “iAM Smart” initiative to be launched by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) soon, GLD will conduct technical studies with a view to enabling users to authenticate their identity and log into the ETB via “iAM Smart”.

GLD will continue to promote the ETB to B/Ds via memo or seminars and encourage their usage. GLD will also work with OGCIO to explore further improvements to and enhancement of the electronic tendering platform’s functions.

Procuring departments are required to split large contracts into smaller ones as far as possible to facilitate participation of SMEs and lower the risk of over-concentration of government contracts; simplify tender documents as far as possible and avoid setting over-prescriptive requirements in the tender documents, so as to relieve the burden of the tenderers and avoid unnecessarily disqualifying tenderers from participation in government procurement. Also, B/Ds should adopt a phased payment approach where possible in setting the payment arrangement and ensure timely payment in a reasonable timeframe, to relieve the pressure on the contractors’ cashflow.

The Smart LAB regularly organises seminars, workshops, and technology fora to increase B/Ds’ awareness in the need for adopting innovative technology solutions in solving daily operational problems. These technology fora provide opportunities for local start-ups and SMEs to introduce their technical solutions to government departments as well as to better understand the needs of departments and submit proposals to the Smart LAB in appropriate areas. The Smart LAB has organised six technology fora since its establishment, and the themes include “Smart City Infrastructure”, “Intelligent Transport System and Traffic Management”, “Blockchain Technology for Public Services”, “Robotics Technologies for Public Services”, “Connected City – 5G and Wi-Fi”, and “Technology Solutions for Remote Work”.

The Smart LAB also arranges jointly with relevant B/Ds testing and proof-of-concept for solutions that meet their needs, hence creating more opportunities for relevant companies to participate in the tender exercise. The Smart LAB has also set up an industry liaison office to showcase those technologies that have been successfully or are being tested by B/Ds with a view to inspiring more B/Ds to adopt.

To foster an innovation and technology (I&T) culture within the Government, the OGCIO launched the “Leading Towards Robotics Technologies” Innovation Competition in mid-2020 for government staff to submit proposals for applying robotics technologies effectively to improve public services. The Smart LAB will aid the ten short-listed proposals to conduct proof-of-concept and select the winners.

In addition, other departments have also set up various platforms/measures in the past few years to facilitate B/Ds’ adoption of I&T solutions including:

the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department established the E&M InnoPortal in June 2018 under which E&M solutions from local universities and start-ups are matched with the needs of B/Ds. So far, over 100 field trials have been conducted to assess their effectiveness and performance reports on the tested solutions have been shared to the Portal for reference by the public;

the Public Sector Trial Scheme under the Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF) provides funding support for public sector organisations to conduct trials of new technologies/products developed by ITF-funded projects as well as incubatees, graduate tenants of the Hong Kong Science Park and Cyberport. Since 2011, over 260 projects involving trials in 150 public sector organisations (including over 30 B/Ds) have been carried out, with a total funding support of about HK$493 million; and

the Efficiency Office (EffO) launched the “Be the Smart Regulator” (BSR) and “Streamlining of Government Services” (SGS) programmes in 2007 and mid-2019 respectively to enhance Hong Kong’s overall business licensing environment and streamline government services, including adoption of suitable technology solutions. The BSR programme currently covers more than 400 business licences involving 29 B/Ds, while the SGS programme requires all B/Ds to propose streamlining measures and to report progress annually.

The Government has been using various means to gauge the views and suggestions of the industry, including SMEs, on government procurement. GLD and the Support and Consultation Centre for SMEs under the Trade and Industry Department also organise procurement seminars for SMEs to brief them on the procedures and arrangements for government procurement and tendering. Comments from SMEs on government procurement will be referred to relevant B/Ds for consideration as appropriate.




Leave a Comment

Related posts