Edwin Muhumuza- Director of Corporate Affairs, PPDA Speaks about Open Contracting in Uganda
For the last 4 years, Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) has been partnering with the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) in promoting efficient public procurement in Uganda. We had a conversation with Mr. Edwin Muhumuza, the Director of Corporate Affairs at PPDA on this partnership and its contribution to improved public procurement in Uganda.
Tell us about the journey of adopting Open Contracting as a practice at PPDA and its contribution to improving public procurement performance in Uganda?
The principles of the public procurement legal framework in Uganda include transparency and accountability. As such, openness in public contracting has always been one of the goals of the PPDA as a regulator of public procurement in Uganda. The PPDA Act of 2003 compelled Public agencies to publish some information related to contracting on their notice boards and the PPDA website. However, there were two limitations with this: compliance was low and only limited information was being published; secondly, non-state actors and the public did not have easy access to this information in a form that could enable them to monitor contract implementation.
In 2012, the PPDA entered into an MoU with a number of CSOs under the Uganda Contract Monitoring Coalition (UCMC). The partnership was meant to encourage open contracting and also allow CSOs to monitor contracts in their localities.
In 2014, the PPDA Amendments Act came into force and it enhanced the transparency measures in public procurement. For example, entities were now required to publish their procurement plans in addition to best-evaluated bidder notices as well as contract details.
In 2015, the PPDA developed a Government Procurement Portal (GPP) on which contract information was to be published and made accessible to the public.
What was AFIC’s role in this process?
AFIC has played a crucial role at all stages on the open contracting journey. It played a leading role in the creation of the contracts monitoring coalition; it made proposals to Parliament for opening up public procurement contracts and has supported both financially and technically the incorporation of OCDS in the Government Procurement Portal. AFIC through their monitoring activities have also produced a number of reports that have supplemented Government oversight. AFIC has also engaged in training Government officials, other CSOs, the media, and other stakeholders on open contracting. It’s also been involved in advocacy to improve the legal and policy framework that creates an enabling environment for open contracting.
PPDA has an MoU with AFIC on work that strengthens our partnership with them.
Elaborate more about the recent framework you started with civil society and the PDEs in Uganda.
The framework was intended to rationalize the relationship between PPDA and CSOs, spelling out the roles and responsibilities of all parties. It’s intended to govern and regulate the relationship between CSOs and Government on contract monitoring
What more can be done to improve the levels of citizens’ participation in public procurement in Uganda?
There is a need for more capacity building and information sharing to enable citizens to demand for accountability. There is also a need to act on the reports submitted by CSOs so that citizens get confidence in the government once it acts on the feedback given.
What lessons do you think other African countries can learn from Uganda’s case on disclosure of public procurement information?
They should be encouraged to develop and regularize relationships with CSOs and work closely with them. They should also develop an enabling legal and policy framework for information disclosure and tools such as procurement portals on which information on procurement contracts can be found.