BCA wins 2012 United Nations Public Service Award

The United Nations (UN) has conferred the United Nations Public Service Award (UNPSA) 2012 to the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) for the Contractors Registration System (CRS) under the “Preventing and Combating Corruption in the Public Service” category. This is the first time a public agency from Singapore has won in this category of the award. The BCA CRS won the Award (2nd place) in Asia and the Pacific for promoting accountability for procurement of public projects.

The UNPSA is the most prestigious international recognition of excellence in public service. It is conferred to public agencies around the world for their creative achievements and contributions towards a more effective and responsive public administration.

The UN commended BCA for its outstanding achievement in demonstrating excellence in serving the public interest and making a significant contribution to the improvement of public administration in Singapore. “Indeed, it will serve as an inspiration and encouragement for others working for public service,” they added.

The BCA Contractors Registration System was set up in 1985 as a centralised, one-stop registration system for contractors who wish to tender for public sector construction projects in Singapore. Prior to this, contractors who wished to tender for public sector projects had to register with the respective public agencies and meet different qualifying criteria.

The CRS thus provides greater transparency as contractors tendering for public sector projects here have a uniform set of registration criteria to meet. This includes relevant experiences and track records, professional and technical personnel, and financial capacity. The CRS grades and places the contractors into different types of construction work and the value of contracts that they can tender for. Public agencies would then evaluate these qualifying contractors objectively through the Price-Quality Method* before awarding to the successful tenderer. There is also a system in place for performance reporting of contractors and debarment for those who have performed poorly or been found guilty of malpractices, from tendering for public sector projects.

Mr Peter Ong, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Singapore, commented, “The CRS helps to create a fair and level playing field for all contractors to participate in competitive bidding for public tenders. There is also increased accountability as all public agencies undertaking construction tenders are required to use the CRS, which the BCA administers as a neutral party. BCA’s CRS has brought about greater transparency, convenience and knowledge-sharing in Singapore’s public sector construction tendering process.”

Mr Khaw Boon Wan, Singapore’s Minister for National Development, said, “Singapore’s reputation as a country with little corruption is attained after years of intense emphasis. It requires sustained efforts from everyone and there is no room for complacency. The United Nations Public Service Award conferred to the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) in the category of preventing and combating corruption is a happy event to remind us of such efforts. BCA’s Contractors Registration System, a transparent one-stop system to help the public sector source for the most suitable contractors, has been noted by the UN to be a cost effective innovation in the fight against corruption. I congratulate the BCA. We are cheered by the recognition.”

Besides improving the procurement criteria of public sector projects, the CRS also serves to raise the level of professionalism and capabilities of contractors. Capable contractors with good track records are given the opportunity to rise through the ranks within the CRS and tender for public sector projects of higher value.

Dr John Keung, CEO of BCA said, “Throughout the years, we have been reviewing the CRS to raise the professionalism of the registered contractors. Contractors at the higher registration tiers, for example, need to have certified quality and environmental management systems, and their personnel are required to fulfill continuing education and training (CET) requirements. We have also been sharing our experiences on CRS with other countries that are interested in setting up similar contractors registration systems. In fact, the South Africa’s Construction Industry Development Board had modelled their national Register of Contractors and Register of Projects after BCA’s CRS.”

Dr Keung will receive the award at the United Nations Public Service Day and Awards Ceremony in New York, USA on 25 June 2012.

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