The FINANCIAL — The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is strengthening the role of civil society in public procurement.
Together with the Partnership for Transparency Fund (PTF) and the Kyiv School of Economics (KSE) the Bank is launching today a two-year project to monitor the public procurement of goods and services using the national electronic procurement system, ProZorro, and a special application developed by Transparency International Ukraine for collecting feedback.
Increasing transparency and reducing corruption in public procurement is a priority for the Ukrainian government. The ProZorro system was spearheaded in 2014 by Transparency International Ukraine (TI) and the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine (MEDT) and implemented with support by the EBRD, the Open Contracting Partnership and other public and private international and Ukrainian institutions, according to EBRD.
Under a new public procurement law, ProZorro, operated by the MEDT, is mandatory for all public tenders conducted in Ukraine. Even before the introduction of ProZorro, several civil society organisations (CSOs) in Ukraine had been monitoring procurement on a case-by-case basis with significant success in areas such as medical supplies, medicines and railway equipment. The new system will make it easier for CSOs operating in Kiev and at the regional or municipal level to monitor procurement in all its phases.
However, training is necessary to enhance the capacity of monitors to do this work in an informed and responsible manner. Monitoring procurement requires technical knowledge of the procurement process as well as a good understanding of the legal and institutional environment in which procurement decisions are made. The EBRD project, which complements CSO training provided by TI and an EU-funded project, will offer such training. It will help CSOs and journalists identify irregularities and bring evidence-based reports of abuse to the attention of the responsible authorities.
“Public procurement is one of the most critical aspects of good governance in Ukraine, where the involvement of civil society can add real value in terms of enhancing transparency and addressing corruption. The EBRD-supported project aims to ensure that public procurement is appropriately monitored by independent observers, by providing CSOs with effective monitoring tools at the local and municipal level, as well as enhancing their knowledge and capacity through tailored training and assistance,” said Cristina Buzasu, EBRD operational leader of the technical cooperation project.
“This project stems from the successful introduction of the ProZorro system. The first steps have been completed, and ProZorro is now well equipped to give civil society unrestricted access to public procurement information and statistics. At present, we are working with TI , the PTF and KSE on further developments – new methodologies and tools that will help monitor procurement effectively at national and municipal levels. It is also important to provide contracting entities with a red flag system on ProZorro so they can monitor their own organisations and promote best practice. Enhancing the monitoring of public procurement will help strengthen the economy and make public spending more efficient, thus improving the business climate for the private sector in the country. We are glad that the EBRD is supporting Ukraine in this important initiative,” said EBRD Senior Counsel Eliza Niewiadomska, who worked with EBRD consultants Tato Urjumelashvili and David Marghania on the creation of ProZorro.
This project is funded by the Ukraine Stabilisation and Sustainable Growth Multi-Donor Account. Its donors include: Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and, with the most recent and largest contribution, the European Union.
The EBRD project is expected to have an impact beyond analysing and publicising the findings of the monitoring process. The project will give CSOs tools to engage and influence government to reduce corruption and inefficiencies linked to procurement.