The public procurement oversight agencies for Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania have resolved to fast-track open contracting by proactively publishing data in Open Contracting Data Standards formats and promote monitoring of contracts by none state actors. They also resolved to promote participation in the participation of special interest groups like women, youth and people with disabilities in tendering processes.
The resolutions were made at the closure of the 12th East African Public Procurement Forum (EAPPF) held at the Arusha International Conference Centre Tanzania from 27th to 29th November 2019 under the theme, “Embracing Modern Procurement Practices for Sustainable Economic Development”.
While addressing the Forum, Mr Benson Turamye, the Executive Director of Uganda’s Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority observed that governments need to recognize the positive contribution of civil society organizations in the monitoring public contracts and facilitate their work by disclosing needed information and implementing their feedback. He noted that procurement oversight authorities were under-resourced and cannot cover the whole country hence the need for CSOs and media to compliment them.
He strongly acknowledged the collaboration with the Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) and the Open Contracting Partnership which enabled PPDA to improve disclosure and public monitoring of contracts through the Government Procurement Portal (GPP – https://gpp.ppda.go.ug/). He noted that through GPP, all procuring entities are required to publish Procurement Plans, Procurement Notices, the record of bid opening, Best evaluated Bidder Notices and Contract Award notices.
Mr Gilbert Sendugwa, AFIC’s Executive Director presented his organization’s experiences in monitoring contracts. He observed that through monitoring AFU+IC had identified issues such as collusion, cost and time overruns, “ghost projects”, dumping of inputs and lack of information about the project by communities. He revealed that the government had implemented nearly two-thirds of AFIC’s recommendations with lessons being:
a) when citizens access information and engaged, ownership of projects is ensured.
b) Constructive engagement yields results and strong partnerships between CSOs and Government
c) CSO co-creation of solutions with Government builds trust and makes a big difference in promoting the performance of contracts
d) commitment by procurement oversight agencies is critical for the effectiveness of monitoring of contracts by none state actors.
He noted that it was pleasing for the Government of Uganda to institutionalize CSO monitoring contracts as per the announcement of the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development who on October 31, 2019, launched a national framework for CSO monitoring of contracts in Uganda and cited the positive collaboration with AFIC which inspired the new initiative.
Mr Sendugwa made the call for the respective public procurement authorities to embrace open contracting.
It was unanimously the adopted resolutions be implemented as soon as possible and each procurement oversight authorities committed to report on implementation at the 13th EAPF to be held in Kigali, Rwanda.