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[Column] Roles Played by Public Procurement in the COVID-19 Era
Writer : 신지형 Read : 2659 Date : 2021-03-25 10:14:46

Roles Played by Public Procurement in the COVID-19 Era

January 18th, 2021

Administrator Kim Chungwoo

Public Procurement Service




Above all, the economic harm done by the infectious disease has unprecedented repercussions across the world. Even South Korea whose K-quarantine efforts are widely rated successful could not avoid the negative growth with subdued economic activities in the private sector. For the economy to bounce back, proactiveness by the government is required.


It is noteworthy of the need to strategically utilize the public procurement market worth a whopping 135 trillion KRW (around 120billion USD) - 7% of the nation’s GDP. Public procurement is one of Korea’s main economic pillars so it needs to expand its boundaries of purchase and supply to support for innovative and inclusive growth involving governmental innovation and social value. Plus, it also should put forth a new economic paradigm fitful for the post-COVID trend. In this vein, this year’s focus of procurement administration lies in government procurement playing strategic and proactive roles.

First, procurement execution for publicly funded projects will speed up with more flexible procedures across the entire stages. From public financing to project implementation through procurement, the whole process will be swiftly conducted for the people. Thus, the Public Procurement Service(PPS) will execute procurement projects worth 32.2 trillion KRW( about 28.8billion USD) - more than 4 trillion won up from last year’s total as early as in the first half of the year to rekindle economic recovery, Such a move will ensure timely implementation of policy measures.

Second, warmhearted procurement based on mutual prosperity will be unfolded. In particular, small businesses hit the hardest by the pandemic will benefit from intensified support, direct or indirect, in the procurement process. And the current procurement regime focused on price competition will turn into technology-and quality-centric one so that gains can be earned not given.

Third, PPS plans to create an innovative and digitalized procurement ecosystem. It is to lead innovation in public service by providing a growth ladder for startups and ventures though Innovation Procurement for their greater leap and thereby expanding novel technologies of the 4th Industrial Revolution. For that to happen, the central procurement body will scale up the project to buy innovative products up to 44.5 billion won(around 40 million dollars) in 2021 from 2.4billion won(around 2.15million dollars) in 2019 which would lead to tangible fruits in Innovation Procurement.

Inno-KONEPS, the next-generation Korea Online E-Procurement System which is a core digital procurement system aimed to be established in 2023, will be robustly equipped with the latest ICT innovations such as AI and Big Data. Such a system upgrade is made to grow it into an e-Procurement platform which will pioneer digital transformation grabbing global attention. Every procurement procedure including Inno-KONEPS will be entirely redesigned towards further digitalization and contactlessness and thereby procurement administration and relevant policies most pertinent to the digital age will continue to be identified.

And finally, PPS will be committed to enhancing public trust in and safety of the central procurement supply system over health-related and safety items. Last year, the central procurement agency, in close collaboration with health authorities, successfully procured publicly distributed masks in the fierce combat against the COVID-19 pandemic. By making most of the successful experience, it will establish and run a swift and stable procurement system to ensure safety of vaccines and therapeutics and the uninterrupted supply of experimental and medical equipment for vaccination.

As an old saying goes, “After a storm comes a calm,” there is always a light at the end of every tunnel. Hopefully, in this year of the White Ox, we will win the prolonged battle against COVID-19 and go back to daily normalcy. Therefore, PPS will do its utmost to get public procurement to serve as a stepping stone in fulfilling the wish.