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One of the most quoted boasts about the government’s central supplier database (CSD), introduced in 2015, is that it should result in "one single database to serve as the source of all supplier information for all spheres of government" and should "reduce duplication of effort and cost for both supplier and government while enabling electronic procurement processes". In other words, even if the business you run is a small one, it would be worth registering on the CSD. Bidding for government work would be much easier because all your information would be easily accessible in one place. But what happens when the government, at whatever level, doesn’t make correct use of the CSD? And what if its failure to do so causes you to lose the job? These questions are far from academic, as a recent tender dispute involving the Walter Sisulu local municipality, in the Eastern Cape, makes clear. The municipality had invited tenders for the upgrading of roads, with a closing date of November 6 201...

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