Transparency and data disclosure: How to make government contracts smart and data-driven

Aug 7, 2022

Asma Al-Sharifi, opened the session, with the invitation of Dr. Azhar Hussein, Undersecretary of the Planning Ministry for Administrative Affairs, to get on the stage, also welcomed the speakers that participant through Zoom application: Marwan Tarazi, from Palestine, Regional Director of the Data for Development organization, and Gavin Hayman, Executive Director of the Open Contracting Partnership (OCP) from France.


Dr.Azhar thanked the conference organizers for the invitation, and she added, Iraq today suffers from a loss of confidence in successive governments. There is a study at the Planning Ministry aimed to how citizens can participate in policy-making, planning, decision-making, and express their needs through direct participation or Civil Society Organizations.


The study targeted the fragile sample in the community, such as remote areas in the governorates, and meeting their needs. This study was funded by a loan from the World Bank.


She added that the study achieved a good amount of transparency through sharing the data that t citizens need to provide their needs and training the workers to share the results of the projects that are implemented after meeting the needs, so the citizen feels that this project is his own, so that he can then monitor and follow up on implementation procedures.


Dr. Azhar spoke about the contracting system in Iraq. Before 2003, contracts inside Iraq were two types (operating contracts, and supply contracts). The supply contracts were defined by the general conditions of contracting. The last update of these conditions was in 1987 from FIDIC Organization. While the supply contracts, were specified by regulations issued by the Council of Ministers at that time.


She clarified that after 2003, there is a qualitative leap in the contracting system in Iraq in two aspects (legislative, and stages of transition to transparency and disclosure of data). From the legislative side, Iraq is late due to the economic blockade and wars, but after 2003 some laws were studied, including Coalition Provisional Authority Order No. 87, the government issued instructions for implementing government contracts No. 1 in 2007 and updated in 2008.


While for the transparency side, we need to unify the data of government institutions in all governorates so that there is an infrastructure for data and contracts so that we can deal with them easily.


Can you share with us the international standards and how these standards can help in the development of countries? A question asked by the session facilitator Asma Al Sharifi to Gavin Hayman.


Gavin talked about the Open Contract Partnership, which operates in more than 30 countries around the world and uses open data and open government to monitor public expenditures for participating countries.


He explained that public expenditures are the economic production center and the basis for equitably distribute services among people, but they are also considered as the first danger of corruption for governments.


He pointed out that the organization helps its allies by developing a unified document in which coherent rules and procedures for disbursement are written, informing users and assisting them in planning, absorbing and implementing their projects that would improve the market, as well as studying previous market data, as well as developing a communication plan for allies among them to share experiences and benefit from them.


Gavin added that the organization has a standard through which data and records of participants can be tracked. This standard aims to assess the integrity of the contracts used, and this standard depends on (planning, aware, contracts, and implementation).


Planning includes (the project budget, project plan, disbursement plan, and market study). As for the bid, it includes the bid details and the bidder's information. For contracts, the final project details include signatures and evaluations. Finally, the implementation includes the specific duration of the project and the place of its implementation. And this standard is used by 50 countries around the world and the World Trade Organization.


One of the examples that can be mentioned from some countries, such as Ukraine, which used to follow the Soviet exchange system, which was archived documents on paper, and now it has a website where all the government spends in the contracts, as well as Colombia benefits from it in the disbursement of contracts for school meals and others, and Indonesia This helped her determine the expenditures of medical supplies during the Corona period.


"Iraq must define the identity of political leadership as well as human investment, continuous participation, and change of management through decision makers," said Gavin Hayman, Executive Director of the Open Contracts Partnership.


Finally, at the conclusion of his presentation, he added that Iraq should publish the data that uses in the exchange contracts that uses in government transactions.


"There are international standards. Can you give us a glimpse of these standards and their evaluation, especially in countries that have security or economic challenges?" A question asked by the facilitator to Marwan Tarazi, the Regional Director of Data for Development.


Marwan said, "Open data is the main part on which development depends." He stated that there must be conditions to achieve a good environment for digital transformation, which are (the existence of legislation, digital infrastructure, human resources, and wise leadership).


And for the legislation, it is not only legislation of laws, but it must be implemented. And for the infrastructure, (servers, advanced technical devices, protection systems, and data) must be provided. As for leadership, decision makers must know the importance of data and how to deal with it and share it securely. Finally, human resources must also know the importance of data. What rights or freedoms can offer them, and how to deal and protect them.


He added an example of the global biometric data, which determines the use, impact and availability of data, as well as the capabilities of governments, civil society and the private sector to disseminate, use and process data.


Finally, at his presentation, Marwan mentioned that media has a great importance in citizen’s awareness about the importance of data. They have an experience at Birzeit University on the role of media and social media in spreading general concepts of data.