During the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people have started to think about the role of public procurement in their lives. They see governments buying personal protective equipment and ventilators, and urgently building new hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients etc. Every week we read about new scandals – enormous prices, new firms receiving millions of $ in contracts, money is being lost and the list goes on.
Sadly, few governments proactively publish information about how these public funds are spent. Most of these insights come from civil society or journalists, not from government investigations. But thankfully, citizens have been paying more and more attention to procurement monitoring in recent years. They want to be sure that their money is being spent openly, fairly and efficiently. And when the information is available, great things happen, as the growing number of citizen and civil society-led procurement monitoring ventures around the globe have shown.
But what is “procurement monitoring”? How could it be conducted more efficiently by adopting better technology and access to data? And what encourages citizens to look at contracts?
There are so many approaches to “procurement monitoring”, and all of them are correct as they work for different contexts, objectives and methods.
In a series of blogs we want to explore the various ways that citizens and civil society organizations are conducting procurement monitoring. We will try to cover
- different contexts – low-tech and fully digitized monitoring systems;
- different approaches – from looking at particular procedures, to complex analysis and oversight;
- and different actors – from professional CSOs and investigative journalists, to citizen engagement and monitoring by affected communities.
If you are an open contracting leader, we want you to get involved too. Firstly, we’d like you to share your examples of good procurement monitoring approaches. We’ll be happy to publish your stories about the tools and methodologies you are using to make public spending accountable and efficient. Secondly, we’d like you to tell us what types of monitoring you are most interested in. What works and what doesn’t work? We’ll document your approaches and present case studies during upcoming webinars and events.
Let’s dive into the first case studies:
FUNES – the corruption detecting algorithm that never forgets, Peru
A website, a search engine and more than 245,000 public contracts. By simply entering the name of a company or entity, in the blink of an eye an algorithm checks hundreds of documents and calculates the corruption risk as a percentage. This is how FUNES works, the tool that the Peruvian news outlet Ojo Público created to investigate government contracts. MORE.
DOZORRO – Ukraine’s huge network of citizen corruption fighters
In three years, the DOZORRO procurement monitoring community has uncovered violations in over 30,000 tenders with an estimated value of $4 billion. The network has been listed by the Open Government Partnership as one of the top 12 “star reforms” projects worldwide for engaging citizens as a corruption watchdog and was recognized as a showcase example by the OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovations. MORE.
Anti-Corruption Repairs Map – the mobile app helping Ukrainians check public works projects in their area
More than 50,000 Ukrainians have used the Repairs Map to check what public works projects have been promised and paid for in their neighborhood, and to ensure they are completed as planned. Now, the creators of the tool are using their skills to tackle a new challenge: tracing procurement for Covid-19 emergency supplies. MORE.
QuiénEsQuién.wiki – a Who’s Who of Mexico’s public contracts on one platform
Built by the Mexican civil society group PODER, the QuiénEsQuién.wiki database aggregates data on more than 3 million public contracts representing almost MXN 30 trillion (US$1.5 trillion) in public spending. It connects to several digital tools designed to explain corruption and mismanagement in the Mexican procurement system. PODER as well as many journalists and researchers have used the tools to conduct investigations, most recently on emergency spending on contracts during the coronavirus pandemic. MORE.