On December 14, IDFI organized a partner session within the framework of the 2021 Open Government Partnership (OGP) Global Summit, titled Stronger Alliances against Corruption in Procurement through the Lens of OGP. The panel was organized by the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information and brought together experts from around the world with extensive experience with the topic of public procurement. The Global Summit provides the OGP community an opportunity to reflect on a decade of open governance reforms across the world and solidify the vision for the future.The primary goal of IDFI’s partner session was to discuss the impact of international and regional CSO alliances on transparency and openness in the direction of public procurements and offer insights into how these alliances can be helpful to both the OGP goals and the Global 2030 Agenda going forward.
The panel brought together Vivien Suerte-Cortez, Consultant in Thematic Policy Areas with the Open Government Partnership; Karolis Granickas, Senior Program Manager for Europe at Open Contracting Partnership; Sandor Lederer, co-founder and Executive Director of K-Monitor; Khrystyna Zelinska, Innovation Projects Program Manager at Transparency International Ukraine; and Sandro Rochikashvili, TPPR Project Manager at IDFI.
Giorgi Kldiashvili, the Executive Director of IDFI, offered opening remarks and moderated the panel discussion.
“With OGP being a global partnership and a revitalized Global Partnership for Sustainable Development being named central to achieving the Global 2030 Agenda, international alliances tackling the topic of public procurement are thrust into the spotlight. Pooling expertise, best practices, and various tools and mechanisms together, it becomes possible to push for better and more transparent procurement systems with enhanced support from peers across countries and continents. Backed by such networks and alliances, local CSOs are empowered to push for better legislation and standards, advocate more effectively, and share international experience with their governments and local partners,” – said Giorgi in his opening remarks.Following his opening remarks, the panelists spoke regarding their own experiences in the field, with particular emphasis on the role international, regional, and local coalitions play in pushing for positive change. Ms. Suerte-Cortez discussed the issue of public procurement within the context of OGP, stressing the importance of open contracting in this regard, and discussing various examples of successful action by partners and member states.
Karolis Granickas highlighted positive change being enacted on a wider regional scale through the example of the Open Spending EU Coalition – a collaborative effort by a variety of non-government organizations aiming to advance the principles of openness in spending of funds, procurement, and company ownership within the EU. Sandor Lederer in turn spoke regarding some recent collaborative activities related to public procurement, including the tenders.guru project that aimed to foster transparency in local level procurements, a BI tool at redflags.eu in cooperation with TI Ukraine, and the Open Procurement EU coalition.
Ms. Zelinska approached the topic of the panel discussion primarily through the lens of the DOZORRO watchdog network launched by TI Ukraine, which monitors and exposes problems with public procurement in Ukraine. She spoke extensively about the role this network has played in bettering procurement in the country. The discussion also highlighted how other international tools, such as, for instance, TPPR, can be used for spurring action and setting goals for such networks and coalitions.
Finally, Sandro Rochikashvili discussed IDFI’s own global initiative, the Transparent Public Procurement Rating, highlighting especially examples of legislative reforms that were achieved as a result of the assessment results of the countries being leveraged by partner organizations and local CSOs to push for changes. These examples included developments in Kyrgyzstan, Kenya, Costa Rica, Venezuela, as well as some current processes that have potential to yield positive change.
The panelists repeatedly stressed the vital role coalitions and alliances play in paving the way for better, more efficient, more transparent public procurement systems worldwide. With Open Contracting and Public Procurement being one of the cornerstones of the OGP anti-corruption agenda, and the importance of public procurement in achieving SDGs 8, 9, 12, 16, and 17 of the Global 2030 Agenda, this role will only increase in the coming years.
IDFI remains committed to participating in international initiatives, including its active involvement in OGP in Georgia as well as globally. The TPPR network has grown to 41 countries and will soon acquire new members, allowing partners to accurately assess public procurement systems, to develop recommendations for solutions for the deficiencies revealed through evaluation, and to more successfully advocate for change.