(Online), 21 May 2021 - A growing volume of captured data, the limits of traditional enforcement approaches and technological advancement have given rise to the use of data analytics as an essential component of an effective anti-corruption response. As the Covid-19 pandemic brings new corruption risks to the region, in particular for public procurements and contracting, law enforcement agencies in Southeast Asia increasingly look towards “red flag” risk assessment tools and the analysis of procurement data to guide anti-corruption responses. A UNODC study published earlier this year showed that the uptake of data analytics is highly unequal across Southeast Asia. A lack of cooperation among agencies that collect data and insufficient availability of electronically formatted, compatible datasets were among the most common obstacles cited by Anti-Corruption Agencies in the study.
To address these challenges, UNODC organized a series of events bringing together practitioners from Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam with international and regional experts to discuss best practices around data analysis and public procurement systems. The consultations held at the events enabled the identification of gaps in existing oversight mechanisms and solutions related to the application of innovative data-driven approaches for the control of corruption in public procurement across the region.
Screenshot from UNODC Webinar on Digitalization Against Corruption
Key recommendations from the events include the following:
Legislation on public procurement in Cambodia was laid out in 1995, 1998 and 2002. Six methods of public procurement are used in-country. Those bidding for a supply or public works contract must be registered with the Department of Public Procurement.
Training on Preventing Corruption in Public Procurement (Cambodia, March 2021)
Key recommendations aim at increasing levels of transparency and public participation. One suggestion is to bring together data from the Department of Public Procurement and from the online firm registry to build a database of public purchases that includes information on suppliers. Another step is the overhaul of procedures surrounding the dissemination of information about tenders, to improve public participation.
Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has made notable progress in the collection of data in the fight against corruption, including through Law 2002/30 that pioneered a three-pronged approach of education, prevention and investigations, and through Law 2003/13 that offers whistleblower protection.
Screenshot of Training on Preventing Corruption in Procurement Through Big Data (Indonesia, November 2020)
The infrastructure that is already in place in Indonesia to manage contracting data presents an opportunity to improve public access to data, which can be further leveraged to compute corruption risks red flags. Another recommendation raised at the trainings is for further training on data analytics, to enable public procurement data to be analyzed be a wider range of personnel and to raise awareness across agencies of the importance of coordinating on public procurement data.
In the Philippines, public procurement responsibilities are held both by line ministries and Bids and Awards Committees (BACs), supported by technical working groups. Over 2020-21, the Government Procurement Policy Board has engaged in a project to build public procurement data infrastructure.
To maximize the impact of this project, transparency of beneficial ownership information will be important, to ensure that corrupt persons cannot simply form new companies to clear their record. An additional suggestion is to see that the potential for further inter-agency collaboration is integrated into the design of new public procurement data systems. The adoption of Open Contracting Data Standards (OCDS) would be useful in enabling the system to be scaled up in future.
Major laws on public procurement were set out in 2013-15, with legislation on corruption and the penal code taking effect in 2018-19. Viet Nam has announced plans for its public procurement system to go digital by the year 2025, managed by the Ministry of Investment and Planning.
Training on Corruption Risks in Procurement (Viet Nam, December 2020)
Recommendations from key events propose a combination of training on data analytics techniques, assistance in developing a strategy for data management and sharing and support on the application of its data infrastructure system. Meanwhile, UNODC is working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to prevent corruption in procurement across Viet Nam.
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