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Open Letter to States Parties to the UNCAC: Advance strong resolution on public procurement

Dear Delegates of the States Parties to the UN Convention Against Corruption,

We, 115 civil society organizations supporting public procurement best practices and open contracting in 62 countries, would like to call your attention to the opportunity to advance and strengthen the implementation of the UNCAC at the 10th Conference of States Parties (CoSP) to the UNCAC in Atlanta, Georgia, through a resolution on public procurement.

Public procurement represents a third of all government spending, making up more than US $13 trillion in economic value each year. It’s also a government’s number 1 corruption risk, with nearly two thirds of cases prosecuted under the OECD anti-bribery convention involving public contracts. 

As we run short on time to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals against a backdrop of growing debt and inflationary pressures, optimizing every dollar of this enormous sum of public money is more urgent than ever. From building climate resilient infrastructure to providing children with a quality education to rolling out vaccination programs to creating economic opportunities for small businesses and more, public procurement is the front line of how people around the world experience their government’s ability to meet their needs.

In the past two decades of UNCAC implementation, governments around the world have piloted and scaled game-changing reforms that have opened up public contracts to combat corruption, improve government efficiency and drive economic opportunity. Civil society has played a valuable role in designing these reforms, using procurement data, monitoring for red flags, and sharing feedback with government entities on contract delivery.

On the basis of our collective experience advocating for these reforms and supporting their implementation, we would like to highlight five ways States Parties can advance transparency in public procurement at the 10th CoSP:

  1. Introduce and craft a robust, dedicated resolution bringing together the latest public procurement best practices into one point of reference that acknowledges the advances of the past two decades in ICTs, data, digital tools and good practice. 
  2. Mandate updated, user-friendly guidance on implementing UNCAC Chapter II Article 9, translated into UN official languages for broad accessibility.
  3. Commission UNODC research into good practices on digitization and transparency of public procurement and its intersection with Sustainable Development Goals on gender, equity, environmental sustainability and economic opportunity.
  4. Support stronger, more meaningful inclusion of civil society, academia and the private sector in the implementation of reforms and monitoring of public procurement, including through enhanced collaboration with UN country and regional programs 
  5. Commit to collecting and sharing case studies of successful open contracting approaches to public procurement reform, highlighting the work of governments, civil society, the private sector and academia and sharing key lessons learned

As the leading global forum for setting best practice norms in the fight against corruption, we urge the States Parties to the UNCAC to make transparency in public procurement a high priority at the 10th CoSP, and seize the opportunity to play a pivotal role in supporting states to take full advantage of the economic power of public procurement to drive the Sustainable Development Agenda.

Signatories (listed alphabetically)

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