07 September 2021
Public contracts matter for each and every one of us - they deliver vital goods and services including health, education and other essential community infrastructure.
It’s now the world’s largest marketplace worth US$13 trillion every year, yet public contracts are also government’s number one corruption risk with one in every three dollars spent on a contract with a company.
Recently Bernadine Fernz, Head of Infrastructure at Open Contracting Partnership talked to how standardising and opening up public contracting data was leading to real impact on the ground, including in Asia.
The Indian state of Himachal Pradesh has piloted a data-driven tool to assess the efficiency, competitiveness and value for money of public procurement. This is providing insights to decision makers on where to invest public funds. All public contracts have also been mapped to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to make it easier to understand if and how India is achieving on health infrastructure, goods and services.
In Malaysia, a ‘red flag’ tool was developed to identify corruption at the earliest stages of the procurement process before contracts are awarded. There’s also been work undertaken with government agencies to help them make better decisions on hospital and school infrastructure by ‘joining up’ contracting and capacity data. This has enabled them to better understand their areas of greatest need and ensured investment is made in the right areas.
The Philippines government is improving their public procurement system implementing a tool to collect data from across government agencies in a form that can be used for analytics. Research is also underway to look at the capacity of local government to procure emergency supplies during a crisis. This index will match high-capacity local government agencies partner with high-capacity suppliers to ensure emergency funds are used in the most effective way.
Bernadine explained that taxpayers everywhere want to be sure that every dollar spent by government is fair and efficient so people benefit – and open contracting is providing the transparency to do that.
‘We’re pushing beyond process improvements to finding efficiencies and minimising waste and leakage,’ she said.
‘We want to see public procurement where companies get a chance to compete for contracts and are assessed fairly,’ said Bernadine. ‘We also want to see goods and services that are good quality and value and get to people in a timely manner. This is why we do this work.’
Learn more about the BHP Foundation’s Natural Resource Governance Program