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What Is Open Contracting Data Standard and Why Is It Important?
01 Apr 2017
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In 2016, during the London Anti-Corruption Summit, the Government of Georgia has made a commitment to introduce "Open Contracting Data Standard”, which reflects the best international practices of disclosure of information on public procurement. 

 "Open Contracting Data Standard” (OCDS) represents data processing mechanism developed by procurement experts. It is a flexible format and logical structure of information, which simplifies collection, processing and distribution of data.

The “Open Contracting Partnership” (OCP) developed the standard in 2014. The standard is becoming widely popular, as the best method of data processing. 

Introduction of standards in global level is headed by the World Bank together with OCP. The standard has been successfully implemented in Canada, Mexico, Paraguay and Ukraine. Other than these countries, the standard individually has been introduced in Mexico City and Montreal. Currently systems close to the standard being developed in the United Kingdom, Romania, Colombia and Zambia.

 

Why Open Contracting Data Standard Is the Best Practice?

 

Automatic Processing Format

Publicity of the public procurement related documents represents first step for the creation of transparent procurement system. However, when information or documents are published in primary format (printed or electronic, but not machine-readable) the interested parties have to manually process the public information, which, in many cases, linked with the excessive time, human resources and error. That is why there is a need in disclosure of information on public procurement in machine readable format, which would be open license (free to reuse).

Open Contracting Data Standard ensures production and storage of information in JSON or in CSV format, which are easily processed and are often used for the data exchange between different data bases.

 

Enlarged Capacity

Information published with above-mentioned standard covers all stages of the procurement process.

Information on procurement is falling under release schemes, which are created individually for every stage. OCP has also has designed tools, which can be used for storing information on procurement in these schemes according to single standard. Important and key information is codified and data is produced in JSON or in CSV format according to the standards

 

Flexibility

By using the schemes, we get uniform standard, comprehensive and accessible information that can be easily downloaded. Additionally, quantitative and qualitative processing of the information becomes faster and easier.

 

Accessibility


Data procession in this format makes it possible to interconnect a variety of databases, (procurement, budget, business registry, etc.) which simplifies the analysis of public information for the state establishments, as well as for any interested person.

 

Why This Standard Should be Introduced in Georgia?

By the degree of transparency of procurement system, Georgia is one of the leader countries in the world. Information on procurement in Georgia is transparent and is available for all interested persons. However, improvements can be made as currently certain information is not published, such as information on sub-contractors, and certain information is not in machine-readable format.

Introduction of OCDS will resolve all these difficulties.

 

What Is the Difference Between Georgia's Procurement System and OCDS?

Public procurement system of Georgia is fully based on electronic platform and procurement is carried out only electronically. Website provide users with a large amount of information about each procurement and any interested person may receive interesting information (suppliers, tender participants, prices, procurement documentation, results of the tender and etc.) on the different phases of procurement process.

However, the current system has several drawbacks, elimination of which can improve the system:

 

  1. Information on the e-platform of procurement is not accessible for everyone in automatic processing format (machine-readable). This information is gathered and processed by the LEPL "Public Procurement Agency" and the basic information is placed on the agency's website (with the help of visualizations). In Alternative way, information existing in machine-readable format can be downloaded from the website of non-governmental organization "Transparency International - Georgia". However, in this case, the information is not complete and contains errors.

 

  1. On the other side, information that can be obtained from the procurement system is limited and it is impossible to make conclusions about all phases of the procurement. This reduces possibilities to identify flaws in the system and the ability to prevent corruption. 

 

More specifically, if we rely on the “OCDS” the existing system in Georgia needs to improve the contracting and post-contracting (implementation) phases.

 

Contracting Phase

According to the Georgian law on procurement, the purchase agreement must include the following information: 

  • The exact name and requisites; 
  • The tender application number;
  • The name of tender object and relevant CPV code;
  • The cost of the contract;
  • The term of supply of goods, services providing and / or work performance;
  • Rules of payment;
  • Concrete period of time of validity of the contract.

 

Contracts on the website of the Procurement Agency is uploaded in PDF format (scanned version of the contract, which is not in automatically processed format), which means that it is impossible to collect and process given data in the document. General information on the contract is available in machine readable format – amount of the contract, duration, winning company, however detailed information on phases of the contract or milestones are absent.

In case of introduction of open contracting data standard, the above data will become available in CSV format; each item will be released from PDF document to become a separate release. 

At the same time, in case of full compliance with the standard, the following list of information will be added: 

- Amendment or amendments of the Agreements (the date, the contents, the reason / explanation of changes);

 

Contract Execution Phase 

Public procurement system of Georgia does not include the publicity of information about performance of the contract in the automatic processing mode. This information is present in PDF version of the contract.


In case of introduction of open contracting data standard, following information will become accessible:  

  • Basic information on the contract, for example, stages (if any) to be implemented in construction work (identification code stage, stage name, end of the stage, implementation status of the stage, documentation related to the stage of the implementation (acceptance, bank transactions confirming documents);
  • Basic information on the report of Audit and audit-related documentations.

This example illustrates how open contracting data standard can include the full information on procurement process and make it available and processing for all interested parties. 

 

Example of Ukraine


One of the evident examples of the opportunities which OCDS provides is the Ukrainian example of analytical module of Ukraine’s E-platform – Prozorro.

Procurement system of Ukraine is based on OCDS. It is not absolutely identical but includes main characteristics of this standard. Procurement website of Ukraine has an analytical module, which provides possibility to find and process procurement information, portray graphically and as a result receive easily perceivable and comprehensive information. 

Unlike the analytical module of procurement agency of Georgia, by using Ukrainian analytical tool, interested parties are able to choose which information to process.

By using the module, there is possibility to compare different regions, procuring entities, suppliers, sectors of the economy (list is not complete) by using data on public procurement. Information can also be visualized through graphs and any user can select processing information.

Most importantly, any person can download information data on procurement in machine-readable format, process and use it accordingly.

Platform simplifies the monitoring of public procurement. It makes identification of strengths and weaknesses of the procurement system simple and improves engagement of civil society and citizens in monitoring of the public procurement process.

 

What Will Be the Benefits of Introducing OCDS in Georgia?

Publishing information according to OCDS will ensure:

  • Thorough analysis of public procurement data - information will be available on all phases of the procurement process (including the performance of the contract).
  • Any interested person will have a possibility to process the information on the public procurement - any person will download information published based on OCDS and process it with a variety of electronic tools, which represents the fundament of involving civil society and regular citizens in the process of monitoring public procurement activities. 
  • Possibility of creating a red flag system – Storing information on public procurement in machine-readable format represents an opportunity to create a red flags system. This system is used for automatic detection of risky procurement, reducing the number of procurement that is subject to monitoring and at the same time increases efficiency of the monitoring process.
  • Increased trust towards the public procurement system among the society and private sector - established standards will have positive impact in the international rankings of Georgia that will positively affect the trust of the business sector, as well as citizens towards the procurement system.