Madam Andie Okon, a Community Capacity Building Manager of Open Contracting Partnership (OCP), says procurement is the number one of all corruption risks with 57 per cent of foreign cases of bribery attributed to public contracts.
She, therefore, called for Open Contracting Data Standards in such engagements to curb corruption.
Madam Okon said this at a day’s open contracting and Electronic Procurement (E-Procurement) workshop for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and media practitioners in Accra.
It was organised by the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GAAC) and geared towards deepening partnerships with participating institutions to enhance advocacy on the subject.
Madam Okon defined Open Contracting as the set of principles and processes that supported effective public service delivery and access to economic opportunity through open data and stakeholder engagement.
She said Open Contracting involved disclosing of procurement information and making it accessible so that Governments could collaborate with residents, businesses and private sector organisations, to address challenges across the entire contracting cycle and improve service delivery.
Madam Okon said globally, Public Contracting accounted for 13 trillion dollars in government spending and needed to be conducted in a transparent manner in line with good governance principles.
He said in carrying out investigations or research on public procurement data, participants should look out for basic information on which agencies were involved in the contracting, what items were purchased, when and how much money would be spent.
Madam Okon said they should further explore, which suppliers offered the goods and services, and in cases where contracts were not directly awarded, then they should find who the competitors were.
She said “Also, look out for lack of competition, thus, excessive increase in prices. Look for price differences on similar items, inquire about the average price that Government paid for certain items (hospital masks, disinfectants, etc.) for example before the COVID-19 crisis and compare it with the current price and check if the items were delivered on time”.
Madam Okon said OCDS was also important in identifying red flags in Open Contracting by standardising data across different contexts and also covering all procurement cycles among others.
Mr Gideon Sandinah, Senior Information Technology (IT) Officer, Public Procurement Authority, during his presentation on the Ghana Electronic Procurement System (GHANEPS), said E-Procurement helps to increase cost effectiveness and accountability, and improved integrity of procurement through transparency.
Mr Sandinah said it also enhanced policy making capacity of the Regulator, increase tax compliance, among others.
Madam Faustina Djabatey, Communications Officer of GAAC, said advocacy on any subject would only be effective through partnerships and collectively working together to achieve a common goal.
She called on CSOs and the media to use their platforms to project issues related to procurement and open contracting and bring to light all the areas left unraveled.