News update April 2017

April 11, 2017

Call for Proposals and partner selection

The Hivos and ARTICLE 19 programme Civic Engagement for Open Contracting successfully kicked-off 2017 with its first global call for proposals to make public spending more transparent and efficient. In total, we received 116 applications from our focus countries! From these proposals we selected and invited 17 organizations to our Spring Sprints (see below). In the course of nine months, the selected partners will receive a package of support, mentorship and training tailored to their capacities and needs to effectively engage as infomediaries with open contracting in their country. This marks the transition from the inception phase of our programme to the phase of implementation. We would like to express our gratitude to the external members of the selection committee for their difficult work: David Lemayian (Code for Africa, Kenya), Julia Keseru (Engine Room, Hungary), Lindsey Marchessault (Open Contracting Partnership, USA), James McKinney (Open North, Canada) and Katelyn Rogers (School of Data, UK).

Our model: Partnerships

Within our programme we want to work together with key infomediaries to realize change. Infomediaries are actors that package or contextualize complex information and data in such a way that it can be understood and used by wider segments of society. Therefore, we offer selected organizations a partnership. This partnership model is based on co-design and co-implementation and combines brokering of accountability coalitions with an innovative approach to capacity development (based on the Matchbox program from the Engine Room). Partners will receive a comprehensive support package which is customized to the needs of the partner and their capacity development plans, which are co-designed and based on initial and recurring capacity assessments. The support package includes mentorship, training, networking, stakeholder engagement, coordination of advocacy coalitions, brokering, matchmaking and small-scale seed funding. We will work with the School of Data and other regional partner organizations to establish a network of expertise to provide further mentorship, training and expert advice to selected partners and other infomediaries in regions we work in.

To Work: Spring Sprints

Hivos and ARTICLE 19 want to open up public contracting by active engagement of citizens who want to monitor public spending. That’s why we support Civil Society Organizations and others in developing the capacities they need to analyze government contracting data for evidence-based advocacy. Last month we started-off our partnership with selected partner organizations with Spring Sprints (or boot camps) in Nairobi, Kenya (20-25 March), followed by Jakarta, Indonesia (3-7 April) and San Jose, Costa Rica (17-21 April). Focus in these sprints is on the partners: on their organizational strategies, their project proposals, and their capacities.

Each Spring Sprint is attended by the partners, Hivos and ARTICLE 19 program staff, and by organizations from our expert network to help facilitate and contribute to the sprints. Together we review and refine proposals and provide feedback on their Theory of Change and strategy, as well as on their approach to tech and data, stakeholder engagement and advocacy. While the sprints have a focus on proposed pilot projects, emphasis is also given to the long-term vision and strategy towards an approach to tech and data, which supports the partner to go beyond the delivery of a pilot. Because our focus is on change, not on tech and data!

Event: Calling open contracting champions and innovators!

Open contracting is one of the most exciting areas in modernizing government, fighting corruption, reforming markets and fostering business innovation and entrepreneurship. Better, smarter and fairer public contracting will have a huge impact on citizens’ lives everywhere. Hivos and ARTICLE 19, together with The B team, CoST and Open Contracting Partnership, are organizing Global Open Contracting Forum 2017, November 28-29 in Amsterdam. Join influencers and innovators from around the world and plan how we can take open contracting to the next level and deliver impact on the ground!

Together, we will share what’s working, what’s not and what to do about it, how to turn data into impact on people’s lives, best user tools to improve procurement and how to meet user needs and build alliances. We look at innovations in key sectors from infrastructure to health to extractives, give the stage to inspirational champions from government, business and civil society, and show examples of how they can all work together and make open contracting a success. Save the date and stay tuned on how to get involved!

Strategic collaboration with CoST

Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST) implementers from Tanzania, Malawi, and Guatemala all sent in applications for our Civic Engagement for Open Contracting call for proposals. Not only have they been invited to some sprints, they were also defined as strategic partners, together with CoST International Secretariat. Hivos and ARTICLE 19 define strategic partners as actors that can provide expertise and experience in the field to advance the Open Contracting agenda and practices. Therefore, we would like to further explore with them how we can align and collaborate together as a strategic partner towards a more efficient, transparent and accountable public contracting.

Kenya OGP National Action Plan: from commitment to action

Following the Global OGP Summit in December 2016, Hivos and ARTICLE 19 initiated a multi-stakeholder meeting for the realization of OGP commitments made by Kenya in its National Action Plan. The meeting was attended by all implementers: public officials, civil society and representatives from the private sector. And a lot is going on! To create a more transparent procurement process, stimulate public oversight of expenditure and to ensure value-for-money towards citizen priorities, participants discussed the opportunity to provide technical support to the current Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) to ensure that it is aligned with the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS). In addition, to ensure greater transparency around bids and contracts by individuals and companies in Kenya, InfoNET Africa announced that it is in the process of establishing an open beneficial ownership register. This would be linked to the Public Service and Campaign Financing Acts.

Latest corruption scandal Kenya around tender agency 

Meanwhile, the latest scandal in Kenya around procurement shows us again how important it is to foster civic oversight in public contracting, so we know what governments and businesses are doing and they can be held to account. In March, the public procurement appeals body in Kenya has been put on the spot for allegedly awarding a Ksh4.5 billion tender to a contractor before the rural roads agency had completed evaluating bids. The Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) claims that the Public Procurement Administrative and Review Board (PPARB) awarded Roben Aberdare Limited the tender for the upgrading of a number of roads in Nyeri and Murang’a, totalling 98 kilometres, before the KeRRA could announce the winner. Neither the PPARB nor Roben Aberdare have responded to the claims KeRRA has made in its suit filed at the Milimani High Court. Roben Aberdare’s Sh6 billion bid was not the lowest, as it was Sh900 million higher than that submitted by a Chinese firm.

Launch in the Philippines

The Civic Engagement for Open Contracting Programme was formally launched in the Philippines on January 24, 2017. This was done in conjunction with a meeting that sought to validate findings and results of the scoping study, and to provide inputs before the annual Philippine country plan was implemented. A total of 18 participants from the civil society and government sectors were present to validate the scoping study and provide input to the open contracting plan for the Philippines.

The discussion focused on the possible impact of the current political context with the proposed outcomes of the programme. For instance, the participants pondered on “How do we institutionalize efforts transcending political administration?” In terms of strategy, they are looking into policy reform and how we touch base with the community. Overall, the participants agreed that securing government commitment in the next few months is possible. However, Hivos and its prospective partners should be mindful of local capacity and creation of value. A critical factor to include would be the private sector since they are one-half of the contracting process.


Bolivia seventh focus country of Civic Engagement for Open Contracting!

Great news from Latin America: Bolivia and Guatemala are the two countries where our programme will be implemented. We have been working in Guatemala since 2016 but the decision of including Bolivia has been recently made. Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in Latin America, although one of the richest in natural resources. Historically it has been a country where poverty affects the majority indigenous population predominantly, stemming from a legacy of continuous discrimination. But things are changing and working on open contracting could be an opportunity to boost even more that transformation towards justice and equality.

Bolivia has a proactive scenario to improve transparency in public management, so it is essential to articulate efforts with selected key proactive and strategic government players based on a technical proposal that considers the new Constitutional context. It is advisable to promote actions with individual strategic, proactive and propositional players. Among them are journalists, young activists and selected leaders of CSOs. There is a high interest for open contracting so after investment in the development of social actors’ capacities, the country could be a vivid field of research and activism. ¡Allá vamos, Bolivia!

Interested in our programme’s research?

In 2016 Hivos and ARTICLE 19 carried out scoping studies in fifteen countries, conducted under the supervision of Open Contracting Partnership: in Bangladesh, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, the Philippines, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda. The scoping studies indicate the readiness of respective governments and civil society actors to publish and use open contracting data and documents. They point out opportunities and challenges in making public contracting more efficient and transparent, and identify the needs and capacities of civil society to help translate available contracting data into actionable information.