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Tackling heightened corruption through open contracting

If corruption thrives in a crisis, imagine what it can do in a global pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented health and economic crisis. Yet around the world, it’s a pretext for some authorities to enrich themselves or extend their power.

Like in Colombia where 10 mayors are being charged for fraud related to COVID-19 contracts. Or Guatemala, where investigations into companies that received emergency contracts revealed ties to the deputy Health Minister. After the revelation, several health officials were fired for allegedly conspiring to defraud state funds. In fact, there are reports of fraud, failures and price gouging happening across the globe.

That’s why governance and open contracting matters.

Since 2017, the BHP Foundation has supported Open Contracting Partnership (OCP) in their quest to transform public contracting. With public procurement the number one corruption risk for governments, OCP are helping to tackle corruption and increase market competitiveness. And it’s delivering exceptional results. In Colombia, for example, open data helped expose a corrupt US$22 million price-fixing scheme in the provision of school meals.  

But with governments scrambling to procure medical supplies and vaccines and announcing trillions of dollars of public expenditure to stimulate economies and create jobs, public contracting has now become even riskier with much of it using emergency procurement with less due diligence and transparency.   

That’s made OCP’s focus on open, smart and fair public procurement more critical than ever and why the BHP Foundation is extending their support so OCP can enhance their impact in a COVID-19 world.

They’ll address the immediate emergency procurement risks and help with plans for the recovery phase by providing extensive guidance and resources on best practice emergency COVID-19 procurement so that emergency procurement can be fast, efficient and transparent.

In Chile, that means expanding their current work supporting systemic health procurement reforms and focusing on the pandemic response and recovery efforts in the health sector. OCP will also provide intensive support for the recovery phase with a focus on Chile’s infrastructure sector.

‘As governments have scrambled to purchase protective equipment, they’ve spent eye-watering sums of money without proper checks and balances leading to unnecessary waste and an unforgivable loss of life,’ says Gavin Hayman from OCP.

‘Supply chain problems have been exacerbated by antiquated and bureaucratic procurement policies, low levels of transparency, lack of digitization and weak coordination.’

‘Now, with additional support from the Foundation, we can help public authorities and civil societies improve their procurement policies, practices and systems and achieve better results from COVID-19 contracting during the crisis and through the recovery to come.’


Read more about BHP Foundation’s work to enhance governance, help eliminate corruption and effect positive change.