Buying and selling by public agencies offers endless opportunities for dishonest officials to make money. With large contracts the amounts skimmed off can be huge—in some cases tens of millions of dollars. The process of public procurement is extensive, and corruption can infiltrate at any point, from the initial needs assessment through the preparation, award, and implementation of contracts. In developing countries, public procurement through government contracting represents a large percentage of government spending.
Ultimately, honest procurement depends on respecting a few critical principles—fair competition, transparency, and objectivity, with each step governed by well-defined procedures rigorously observed. Where trust is in short supply, the presence of independent observers can put pressure on all participants to respect the procedures and help give the public some confidence in the process. Local civil society organizations can play a key role by providing external oversight, complementing official mechanisms to track and check the performance of the public procurement and tendering agencies.
We empower citizens to become more involved in decisions, processes, and laws that enforce transparency and accountability in public procurement. The citizen-driven approach we employ focuses on cooperative engagement and sustainability. We promote partnerships with policy makers, allowing all key stakeholders to play an integral role in achieving tangible results and shifting the culture of corruption.
Since 2000, PTF and its affiliates have supported 25 CSO monitoring projects aimed at making procurement more honest around the world. The broad categories they represent are:
- Lobbying for the passage of Integrity Pacts
- Monitoring construction projects
- Tracking government expenditures
- Establishing legal mechanisms to protect the public procurement process from corruption
- Creating a programmatic tool to assist in tracking and monitoring
In 2010, the Development Alternatives and Resources Centre (DARC) partnered with PTF to combat an extremely corrupt procurement system. DARC engaged local officials to eliminate elements in the procurement process with potential for corruption. DARC defined and analyzed the procurement process and provided training to local procurement officials to guarantee that they were aware of their own roles and responsibilities. DARC also provided technical expertise in systems design, organizational development, computer training and knowledge transfer. The result was a 150% increase in bid specifications that met the required standards and a 60% reduction in funds lost to corruption during the procurement process, estimated at $2.7 million in total savings.