Civil society advocates trained to use public procurement data

Wahidullah Azizi, Integrity Watch Afghanistan | @WahidSays

In collaboration with the Open Contracting Partnership and the National Procurement Authority and Transparency Afghanistan, Integrity Watch Afghanistan conducted a two-day training for members of Provincial Integrity Networks, government employees and university students on procurement transparency, Open Contracting Data Standards and engagement of the public in government contracts. The trainings which were conducted in Nangarhar, Kabul, and Kapisa were attended by more than one hundred male and female participants.

Hashmat Safi a participant from Kapisa province emphasized the need to conduct many more such trainings as there was little knowledge among civil society about how procurement processes worked within the Afghan Government. He added: “If we get to know how the procurements process works, starting with the announcement of the bidding process, awarding the contract and overseeing its implementation and completion, we will be better equipped with the knowledge to oversee and monitor government procurement processes”.

“For years procurement has been closed off to the public,” said Wazhma Omarkhail another participant from Nangarhar, “Up to now only a few companies have been able to secure government contracts and this closed position compromises the quality of goods and services delivered to the citizens of the province”, she added. Citizens need to know that under current procurement law, people have the right to oversee contract implementation and also check the quality of goods & services within local councils.

Based on the measures detailed in the Open Contracting Data Standards (OCDS), publication of data by default in the procurement process is recommended. This in return will increase transparency and accountability of the public officials involved in procurement-related contracts.

Every year, the government of Afghanistan and governments around the world spend a major part of the national budget on procuring construction, goods and services aimed at benefiting the public. The main purpose behind the OCDS is to engage the public in procurement which in turn will increase transparency in how taxpayer’s money is spent.