Probity is a fundamental part of every procurement project and activity. As probity issues can arise at any stage of a procurement activity, probity needs to be anticipated as early as possible when planning a procurement (pre-procurement) and must be considered throughout the entire procurement lifecycle including category management, early market engagement, market analysis, sourcing and the entire contract phase.
Effective probity management is concerned with the procedures, processes and systems used rather than the outcome of an activity, undertaking or project. It should also be recognised that – despite good management of probity risks – mistakes, delays and disputes can arise. Similarly, even the best probity processes do not guarantee that a project or activity will be immune from problems or criticism.
For public officials and public sector agencies, creating and maintaining probity involves more than simply avoiding corrupt or dishonest conduct. It involves applying and complying with public sector values and duties such as impartiality, accountability and transparency. Ensuring probity in public sector activities is part of every public official’s duty to adopt processes, practices and behaviour that enhances and promotes public sector values and interests.
By not ensuring probity and addressing probity issues early in the planning process of a public sector project the following challenges may arise: lack of confidence (including public confidence) in the process, possible ambiguities in the evaluation of proposals, lack of assistance in ensuring overall project objectives are met and potential future costly challenges concerning the integrity or processes of the project.
Probity involves more than just avoiding corrupt or dishonest conduct: it involves ensuring that often-complex public sector processes – such as procurement, disposal of assets, sponsorship and administration of grants are conducted in a manner that is fair, impartial, accountable and transparent as well as always in the public interest. Probity plans are now part of the planning.