Public procurement monitoring system for civil society

Public procurement monitoring system for civil society
29/04/2021
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Goloshchapova Anastasia Pavlovna
Zhailoobaev Sardar Umutbekovich

Scientific Supervisor- Dolotbakova A. K.
Associate Professor of KSTU named after I. Razzakov

Summaryt: This article examines the problem of the lack of a system for monitoring public procurement for civil society in Kyrgyzstan. The characteristic features of the country's civil society are highlighted and described. The paper proposes a solution to the "green flags" monitoring system based on the international method of the Civil Society Procurement Monitoring Tool.

Keywords: Civil society, public procurement

Sabyrova G.Zh. notes that in the field of public procurement of Kyrgyzstan, about 30 billion soms rotate and annually more than 15% of the gross domestic product is spent on public procurement. Considering the constant deficit of budgetary funds, their efficient and economical use at all times has been and remains a topical issue. Therefore, one of the most important tasks facing the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic is to ensure openness and transparency of public procurement procedures [1].

Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people began to think about the role of public procurement in their lives. They see governments buying personal protective equipment and ventilators and urgently building new hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients, etc. Every week we read about new scandals - huge prices, new firms getting contracts worth millions of dollars, money are lost and the list continues.

The underdevelopment of the institution of civil society and the closed nature of state structures are confirmed by the world rating of democracy, which was compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit of the British company Economist Group, in 2020 Kyrgyzstan took 107th place among 167 countries. A year earlier, the country was number 101. According to the World Justice Project's 2015 index of government openness in the countries of the world, Kyrgyzstan ranks 64th out of 102 in it. Based on this, control and monitoring of public procurement by civil society is necessary to overcome the crisis of public confidence in the authorities. The population, observing and regulating the activities of public procurement, will have increased responsibility, and it will itself decide in what conditions it will live. With this tool, civil society will contribute to the country's economic policy. It is certainly impossible to eradicate corruption completely, however, reducing corruption risks is a goal that should be pursued by those who monitor procurement.

Although monitors are not auditors and lack procurement skills and knowledge, they play an important role in improving the efficiency of public procurement.

Most of these ideas come from civil society or journalists, not government investigations. But, fortunately, in recent years, citizens have been paying more and more attention to monitoring procurement. They want to make sure their money is spent openly, fairly and efficiently. And when information is available, great things happen, as evidenced by the growing number of citizen-led and civil society-led procurement monitoring organizations around the world.

But what is procurement monitoring? How can this be done more efficiently through better technology and data access? What motivates citizens to look at contracts?

There are so many approaches to “monitoring procurement” and they are all correct because they work for different contexts, goals and methods. Of all the known methodologies in the world, the Civil Society Procurement Monitoring Tool is used mostly. It is a tool widely used internationally and relies on the identification of red flags at every stage of the procurement process. Red flags are signs or indications of possible deficiencies, irregularities or corruption. It should be added that the identification of a red flag does not necessarily indicate the existence of a violation or act of corruption, but rather the potential for such to occur. Sometimes a red flag can be the result of a human or technical error without malicious intent, rather than a signal of corruption. Therefore, it is important for monitors to know not only how to identify red flags, but also the measures they can take to analyze them in-depth, including notifying the authorities responsible for supervision and control in the field of public procurement, investigating anti-competitive practices, conflict of interest, corruption, etc. [2].

To carry out monitoring activities, the public procurement process is divided into 4 main stages:

  1. Stage of planning and development of documentation for the award;
  2. The stage of initiating the procurement procedure;
  3. The stage of evaluating offers and awarding a contract;
  4. Stage of execution and monitoring of the contract.

At each stage, a member of the civil society working group to guide the red flag instrument can promptly signal tenders that violate public procurement procedures.

Risk indicators that can help identify potential irregularities or inefficiencies in contracting processes, such as:

  • short tender periods;
  • low number of bidders;
  • low percentage of contracts concluded on a competitive basis;
  • high percentage of contracts with amendments;
  • large discrepancies between the amount awarded and the final amount of the contract.

We can use this tool as an analogue. And given the level of a democratic institution, the level of corruption, culture of thinking, etc. We are able to adapt this public monitoring system in public procurement.

The system itself is built on the basis of several fundamental components:

  • A Procurement Monitoring Guide - provides the user with a detailed scheme for monitoring procurement procedures using forensic expertise and “red flags” signaling the possibility of a corruption risk.
  • The Country-specific Monitoring Guides - allows you to relate the Monitoring Guide to the national specifics of public procurement systems.
  • The Monitoring Assistant - An interactive checklist that makes it easy to spot red flags (signals) of corruption risk.
  • Supporting Materials (The Links Pages) - a collection of additional resources to support monitoring procurement.
  • The Learning Community - an additional interactive learning space where active users (CSPM) can leave their comments on improving the tool and share their experience in finding corrupt procurement.
  • The Online Training - training in the practical use of the tool (CSPM) in procurement monitoring.

The advantages of using the American model are flexibility and modularity. It reflects not only the systematized logic of building the monitoring and control process itself, but also provides the user with a structured tool for searching for corrupt purchases.

Given the risk of reprisals and persecution arising in this process, it would be safer in Kyrgyzstan to apply the “green flag” system, when a civil society representative signals by putting up a green flag where he did not find any violations. Since the degree of corruption of state bodies in our republic is quite high, the direct system of using red flags will constantly lead to the emergence of conflicts and tensions. It is highly likely that outspoken and critical civil society representatives with red flags will be prosecuted and threatened to dissuade them from further participation in the monitoring process. Such acts of intimidation will need to be reported immediately to the relevant national authorities, which is not very pleasant for citizens. Although national authorities may have more opportunities to influence decisions and prevent corrupt practices and ensure that citizens' rights to freedom of expression and public information are respected, there is no guarantee in our country that they will not be drawn into corruption schemes.

It is necessary to keep the names of persons or organizations involved in the monitoring process in complete confidentiality. The information they provide will be mentioned in the report in general terms, that is, "According to the views of civil society representatives of the country ...". Government involvement and lists of participants are not shared with the authorities, and the media should be actively involved in the process.

Summing up, we can say that the benefits of involving civil society institutions and taking into account the interests of citizens in the management of state and municipal services and work to improve their quality include:

  • For state and municipal bodies providing services:
    • percentage reduction in complaints from the civil sector, disputes (related to non-compliance with legislation in terms of public hearings, consultations, etc.), in this regard, the saved time that was previously spent on their consideration can be spent on solving more important problems and tasks not related to complaints and disputes;
    • percentage reduction of negative reviews about their activities, in general, and, in particular, in the field of service provision;
    • assessment of the quality of services by civil society will affect the responsibility of the authorized state body in the provision of them.
  • For the civil sector:
    • significant improvement in public awareness of public procurement;
    • percentage increase in the degree of satisfaction of civil society representatives with decisions made in the public sector, as well as with the results of services provided;
    • reduction of moral costs.

Thus, creating the institution of civil society, we solve the problem of fragmentation and ineffectiveness of monitoring and control of public procurement. There is still no public oversight in Kyrgyzstan. For people who want to understand this process, it is not clear where to turn for help, despite the fact that the procedure is quite difficult for an ordinary person to understand. And public associations and activists are simply unable to keep track of all the processes. Citizens do not trust the very procedure of public procurement and the effectiveness of control over it. In addition, the very ministries and departments responsible for procurement do not learn from their own and others' mistakes, freeing the hands of corruption and unfair competition in this area.

List of used literature:

1. Dolotbakova A.K. On strengthening and intensifying scientific research of the public procurement process in the Kyrgyz Republic URL: [https://www.pplo.kg/repository/26/ ].

2. Guidelines for Monitoring Public Procurement: A Tool for Civil Society URL: [http://viitorul.org/files/achiztii%20publice/Ghid%20Achizitii%20Societate%20Civila%20%202017%20-%20RUS.pdf].