Political Versus Administrative Powers Facing by Procurement Officials
November 23, 2018
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Procurement Policy & Legislation Implementation VS Discretion VS Procurement Practioners

Mkhuseli Ciyo on Procurement Policy & Legislation Implementation VS Discretion VS Procurement Practioners


Procurement officials (Street level bureaucrats)’ actions are viewed with controversy from both the public and the policymakers. These controversies include:

Being generally blamed for poor or inconsistent service delivery by both the public they serve and the political forces who develop the policies they implement.

Being targets of government spending debates – since their employment. Costs usually dominate government budgets, debates always rage over whether or not their roles justify this expenditure; Public servants have generally increased their influence through collectivization (including unionization in the South African case) to an
extent that they “have become a substantial independent force” not easy for both the policymakers and the public to criticize; and Having discretionary powers to influence public policies – i.e. the ability to make flexible choices and decisions in dealing with particular cases and individuals.

Whatever the public officials will be doing, will be interpreted as representing how government policy finally affects the people. Despite the criticisms of discretion, there are also good side of discretion, Firstly, public policy may not always be clear, and a level of personal judgement may be required to interpret ambiguous provisions. Secondly, public servants deal with unique situations where rules may need to differ on a case-by-case basis and discretion enables this.

Thirdly, discretion enables officials to process high volumes of work (through priorities) and finally, the nature of the work itself may require a certain degree of discretion. Discretion, regardless of how it is viewed, also gives the public hope that they will be served by the government. Despite all this, the procurement officials may suffer due to discretion that is not of their own doing.

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