As the Open Government Partnership is gaining momentum around the globe, more and more areas of policy are being incorporated through action plan commitments. Public procurement is one such area. While there very few star commitments related to public procurement to date, this could very well change.
The rise of e-governance and the obvious and tangible benefits gained from opening government data have given rise to a whole movement spearheaded by the likes of Open Contracting Partnership, which supports governments and other state actors in opening their contracting data in a well-structured, usable manner.
But there are also initiatives such as the Transparent Public Procurement Rating (TPPR) that do the important work of laying the foundation for reform through targeted advocacy actions, including by incentivizing governments to take their ongoing or planned reforms to the next level by solidifying their plans through OGP commitments.
TPPR is run by a Georgia-based CSO – Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) with the financial support of the Open Society Foundation and Hivos. TPPR has created a universal standard for assessing public procurement legislation and its implementation in practice, with the goal of providing CSOs with a useful tool to advocate for change in the sphere of public procurement. The TPPR methodology has already gained a degree of international recognition. Council of Europe dedicated a chapter to TPPR and its merits in one of their technical papers – “Corruption Risk Assessment in Public Procurement”.
Recognizing that acting upon one’s findings is of equal importance, the project has also created a growing global network of organizations and individuals working on public procurement to share best practices and empower each other to carry out joint and targeted advocacy actions to achieve tangible change.
Launched in 2016 with 6 pilot countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine), TPPR currently encompasses 14 countries in the Eurasia region, with an additional 14 (and growing) countries around the globe as part its public procurement stakeholder network.
Supporting public procurement related OGP commitments is one of the major advocacy tools used by TPPR, others being: promoting competition in the race for reform by ranking countries, and identifying key problems and formulating specific solutions that can then be used by local stakeholders to push for reform.
In terms of OGP, TPPR has successfully advocated that Kyrgyzstan include a number of recommendations in its OGP National Action Plan. Kyrgyzstan cited TPPR assessment results as one of the grounds for reforming its public procurement system.
The experience of TPPR suggests that the widening of OGP’s scope of coverage will have a tangible positive effect on important areas of governance such as public procurement. TPPR certainly intends to play its part in motivating countries around the world not to miss this opportunity.