“We are committed to ensuring that we improve on the level of disclosure and will need AFIC services on training our procurement staff on how to disclose information on the GPP,” said Ms. Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Health in Uganda.
She made these comments while meeting with the team from AFIC to discuss the most recent data analysis report of the Health Sector disclosure levels on the Government Procurement Portal (GPP). AFIC partnered with Public Procurement and Disposal Authority (PPDA) to redesign the Government Procurement Portal (GPP) and align it to OCDS in a bid to promote disclosure of procurement information. The portal was redesigned to accommodate the increased numbers of government entities to disclose public procurement information and enable the monitoring and production of reports that can be used to analyze the disclosed data.
Following the redesign, AFIC was able to build other eco-system tools that consume GPP data, like open-data dashboards, that have been extensively reused for visual data analysis. It is from this dashboard that AFIC was able to analyze data of key sectors like Education, Health, Agriculture; Transport, and Works. The analysis of these sectors focused on high spending entities within the sectors looking at specific indicators like Cost Overruns, Time Overruns, Competition, Inclusiveness, and Efficiency. From these indicators, AFIC is able to generate the levels of disclosure and rate of return on investment from the procurement processes. From the analysis generated, AFIC has been sharing reports with the relevant entities to discuss their level of disclosure and collectively generate a way forward. AFIC realizes that there is a need to increase disclosure levels on the portal and inculcating open contracting in the norm of public procurement of Uganda.
To that end, on Tuesday, 18th February 2020 AFIC held a meeting with the Ministry of Health officials at their offices to discuss the Health Sector report and the findings therewithin. From the meeting, the Permanent Secretary indicated the need to build the capacity of the procurement department staff to improve on disclosure levels of the Ministry and sector as a whole. AFIC welcomed the idea and indeed prepared to train the officers. On 15th March 2020, AFIC held a training of 10 procurement officers of the key PDEs in the Health sector and other PDEs that included National Drug Authority, National Medical Stores, Ministry of Health, Kampala City Council Authority, National Water and Sewerage Corporation, and Uganda National Council of Science and Technology. Since the training, the disclosure levels of these entities has since improved from disclosing from less than 100 contracts to about 145 contracts.
AFIC has not only shared and built the capacity of Ugandan CSOs. With the successful upgrade of the GPP, AFIC was invited to share lessons with PPRA Kenya on how to duplicate its workflow. The meeting was prepared on the backdrop of Kenya’s government commitments to open contracting and to the OCDS in several international fora. The government of Kenya and PPRA in particular have worked aggressively to open up public contracting data to the private sector, citizens, oversight agencies, and the government. Kenya has also taken significant strides in making public procurement transparent, notably the launch of the newly redesigned Kenya Procurement Portal.
“The reports generated across all sectors will be shared with key accountability mechanisms to ensure policy reform and quick action at the national level. We shall reach out to institutions like PPDA, Parliament of Uganda, Office of the Prime Minister and Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development,” indicated Mr. Gilbert Sendugwa, the Executive Director, AFIC.
By doing this, Uganda has become an outstanding country in not only disclosing public procurement data but also using this data to inform public policy reforms and quick action from the government. Indeed establishing a robust and effective open contracting system can only be achieved through e-procurement. It enhances productivity as electronic records help in the submission of reusable tenders or even filling up paperwork more quickly. It also helps in cost reduction by the prevention of duplicate spending, eliminating paper-based systems. As Uganda prepares to move into e-procurement, there will be a need to further build the capacity of public officials to understand how it will operate so they can continue to increase their levels of disclosing public procurement information. Other countries have a lot of lessons to learn from Uganda as it continues on this journey of Championing Open Contracting.