LCQ18: Improving Government's procurement system

     Following is a question by the Hon Tony Tse and a written reply by the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Christopher Hui, in the Legislative Council today (May 17):
     There are views that in recent years, the country's innovation, technology and industry development in a number of areas has been by leaps and bounds, and it has got a large number of relevant professional and skilled talents. However, as quite a number of outdated and rigid restrictions still exist in the relevant requirements of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government's existing procurement system, including those on product and technology certification, the proportion of local staff employed, and whether or not bidders have been awarded relevant contracts in the past and have relevant experience, etc, it is difficult for Hong Kong to make good use of relevant Mainland technologies and professionals. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it will give equal treatment to Guobiao (i.e. the standards of the country) which are for the certification of Mainland products and technologies, and the relevant standards of overseas countries such as the United States, the European Union and Japan; if not, of the reasons for that, and whether it will conduct a review and a reform;
(2) while ensuring priority employment of local talents, for some projects for which Hong Kong does not have sufficient relevant professional and skilled talents, whether the Government can flexibly relax the requirements related to the proportion of local staff employed, so that successful bidders can bring into Hong Kong professional and skilled teams which are more mature and experienced, so as to provide members of the public with services which are more novel and of better quality; if not, of the reasons for that, and whether it will conduct a review and a reform; and
(3) for projects which involve new technologies and practices, or do not face sufficient competition in the local market, whether the Government, when marking relevant tenders, will give equal treatment and scores to bidders which have been awarded relevant contracts and have relevant experience on the Mainland and bidders with similar local experience; if not, of the reasons for that, and whether it will conduct a review and a reform?

     In consultation with the Innovation, Technology and Industry Bureau, Development Bureau and Labour and Welfare Bureau, the reply to the Member's question is as follows:
     It is the Government's procurement policy to encourage participation of bidders through fair, open and competitive procedures and equal treatment for all local and non-local suppliers in accordance with the principles of the Agreement on Government Procurement of the World Trade Organization, so as to obtain goods and services at the best value for money in support of the Government's programmes and work. The procurement policy stipulates that procuring departments should adopt outcome- or performance-based tender specifications as far as possible. Tender specifications should be set based on the functional and performance requirements of the goods or services required, and not around the technical data of a certain model of the goods or equipment to be purchased. There should be no requirement for or reference to a particular trademark or trade name, patent, copyright, design, type, specific origin, producer, supplier or service provider, unless there is no other sufficiently precise or intelligible way of describing the procurement requirements. If there is such specification, words such as "or equivalent" are included in the tender documents.
     Provided that the abovementioned procurement policy principles are complied with, procuring departments may draw up the tender specifications and requirements for their specific procurement contracts in accordance with their respective needs, including the relevant standards and technical certifications where necessary in goods and services procurements, requirements on staff employed by tenderers, and experience of the tenderers. Regarding the procurement of information and communications technology products, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer has issued guidelines to all bureaux/departments, advising them when arranging the relevant procurements they must adopt the latest relevant international ISO standards and national GB standards should they require to specify information security related standards, in order to facilitate the selection of the optimal information security products to safeguard the information system and data security of the Government. The Government Logistics Department also adopts relevant national standards as one of the technical specifications in the procurement of common-user items for bureaux/departments.
     In the procurement of works contracts and engineering or architectural consultancy contracts, relevant departments have adopted or accepted materials or design that are in compliance with national technical standards based on their procurement needs. Procuring departments would accept tenderers' experience during tender assessment if such experience fulfil the requirements stipulated in the tender documents, regardless of whether the relevant experience is gained locally or non-locally. Also, procuring departments would not set requirement on the ratio of local employees. In other words, tenderers engaging non-local employees can also participate in tender exercises in a fair manner. Besides, the Government has spared no efforts in attracting talents. A series of measures announced by the Chief Executive in the 2022 Policy Address had been launched in late December 2022, with a view to attracting outside talents in a more proactive and targeted manner and injecting impetus to the economic growth.

Ends/Wednesday, May 17, 2023
Issued at HKT 11:30