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From procurement through hiring to leases and licenses, governments worldwide enter into trillions of dollars’ worth of contracts each year. Citizens should know what is in those contracts. Contract transparency improves competition and the quality of procurement, allows oversight by civil society, and ensures firms of a level playing field when they bid. CGD has been at the forefront of developing the evidence base on the impact of contract transparency as well as guidance for practitioners on implementing.
Pascale Hélène Dubois will discuss the global impact of World Bank investigation and prevention activities and then join a panel with Kathrin Frauscher, Deputy and Program Director, Open Contracting Partnership and Hasan Tuluy, Partnership for Transparency Board Director, former World Bank Vice President, to dive deeper into what more can be done at the World Bank and other international institutions to combat corruption.
In advance of adopting a new Policy on Public Information, the AIIB is inviting suggestions on how it could best align public disclosure with its guiding principles of “promoting transparency, enhancing accountability and protecting confidentiality.” The adoption of the new policy provides AIIB President Jin Liqun and the AIIB shareholders an opportunity to demonstrate that this newest of multilateral development banks (MDBs) is serious about its commitment to adopting international best practices. I identified a number of actions that the AIIB could take to improve its disclosure practices. Here are my top three recommendations:
Public-Private Partnership models continue to proliferate, backed by multilateral development banks old and new. But the volume of PPPs in developing countries has stagnated since the global financial crisis, and they won’t deliver unless they are designed and implemented well. Making more and better public-private investments will take a far greater commitment to transparency from participants in the deals. Financiers—MDBs in particular—should take the lead.
Gabriel Sípos, Samuel Spác and Martin Kollárik of Transparency International Slovakia have just published an important and useful evaluation of that country’s contract publication regime. The evaluation suggests proactive contract publication can be a popular, cheap, and effective tool for improving competition in government procurement.
The CGD Working Group report on Publishing Government Contracts lays out the case for routine publication of government contracts, suggests approaches to maximize the impact and effectiveness of that publication, and addresses some common concerns about collusion, privacy, and commercial and national security.
Government contracts regarding the use of public property and finances should be published by default. Many jurisdictions already require that contracts be made public in response to requests for the information; some now publish contracts proactively. Doing so helps new entrants compete in the market for public contracts, helps governments model their projects on other successful examples, and allows citizens greater insight into how their taxes are being spent. This provides a practical outline for reaping the benefits of open contracts while addressing legitimate concerns about costs, collusion, privacy, commercial secrecy, and national security.
Yesterday in a blog about the World Bank and open contracting, I mentioned the bank had put out more data on contracts that it finances. The covered contracts are those that were large enough for World Bank procurement procedures to mandate “prior review” by bank staff before they were awarded, a designation that covers the considerable majority of bank-financed contract value.