“The online procurement systems have seen wide adoption and interest from many countries around the world to replace the old paper-based submission systems which were laborious, time-consuming and prone to errors. E-procurement projects are often part of the country’s e-Government efforts to better serve citizens and businesses in the digital economy. Several government initiatives have been implemented in USA, UK, Singapore, Korea, Malaysia and many other countries. In 2012, the Tunisian Prime ministry in cooperation with the ministry of information and communication technologies have launched a project to implement a national E-procurement system for public tendering in Tunisia. The first step towards the establishment of the new system was the revision of law and regulations in order to enable the procurement’s operations to be performed online and to provide a legal binding effect for the whole tendering process. The main objective of the project was to setup a single window for the public procurements: a 24/7 online bidding system allowing to achieve maximum transparency as every details are made accessible to the public, to reduce operational costs and to eliminate cumbersome paper work, thus bringing efficiency in the steps involved.
The new digitized system will cover the entire procurement process from purchase requests to payments. It will include the following modules:
– Registration of the public procurers and vendors,
– Online submission of tenders (technical and financial offers),
– Digital signature, time-stamping and encryption of the submitted documents,
– Co-signature of electronic contracts between public entities and selected vendors,
– Electronic archiving of tenders for long term duration in compliance with the local
regulation and the international standards,
– E-catalog information system,
– Online shopping mall.
The complete digitization of the process of tendering helps in reducing the bureaucratic delays since it eliminates useless processes and unnecessary exchanged documents. A PKI system is used to validate the identity of the system’s users, to guarantee the confidentiality of the operations done online, the integrity of the exchange data and to allow non-repudiation of acts by the participants. In Tunisia, the National Digital Certification Agency (NDCA) plays the role of the trust entity since it is the root certification authority and its role in TUNESP is to guarantee the identity of the stakeholders, to deliver digital certificates for all users and to foster a climate of confidence, assurance and mutual trust.
The pilot phase of the project will start in 2013 in some governmental institutions such as the Prime Ministry, the Ministry of Equipment, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies, the Tunisian Post, the Tunisian Company of Electricity and Gas (STEG) and other government entities. The generalization phase will cover all public sector and this means that in the near future all public institutions are eventually required to transact their procurement needs (goods and services) through TUNEPS.” – Nizar Ben Neji – Manouba, Tunisia