FEATURE STORY

Procurement App Shows the Power of Transparency and Simplicity

April 30, 2015

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The World Bank Procurement App for Ipads offers the most recent procurement data covering major contracts awarded under Bank-funded projects. Through the App, users can easily explore large amounts of complex data in a short time. Ratios, trends, supplier rankings, pie charts and bar graphs are just some of its core features. Information can be organized and sorted through a variety of filters and functions.

For example, selecting the Region or Category from the App’s menu displays bar graphs showing the distribution of awards in a specific geographic location organized by civil works, goods, consulting services, and non-consulting services. The results can be filtered further by fiscal year and economic sector. Users can view contract awards ranked by top supplier country or by client country. The App allows all visualizations and data tables to be shared by email, social media or through a link.

Open Data and the Bank’s Procurement Reform

The Procurement App is one of several transparency initiatives currently under way. The convergence of new access to information policies, modernization reforms, and various technologies has helped the Bank work differently. As part of its procurement reform and modernization agenda, the Bank has been finding ways to help clients modernize their own procurement systems through open data and knowledge sharing



" Open Data is transforming the way we access and use information. The Procurement App is a good example of how machine-readable data can be used to inform in a way that is immediate, accurate, and easy to understand. "

Marcelo Donolo

Senior Operations Officer, World Bank Group


History

Procurement data covering prior-reviewed (major) contracts under Bank-funded projects has been available since the 1980s. Reporting on contract awards began as what was called the Red Books, a series of paper volumes published periodically that presented contract information in various formats, usually a running tally of facts and figures all too cumbersome to decipher.

By the late 1990s, the Bank began streamlining its reporting on major contracts by offering the information in a more friendly format. Electronic spreadsheets began to replace the Red Books, but the large volume of information – and delivering it on time for it to be most relevant - was still a work in progress. Understanding patterns in the data remained an elusive task, and publications offered information that was over six months old.

In the mid 2000s, the Operations Policy and Country Services Unit (OPCS) of the World Bank developed an external website with search capabilities to help the public access contract data, and began to provide electronic reports on a dedicated procurement website updated on a quarterly basis. While a welcome enhancement, more could be done to simplify data and harness the true potential of the Bank’s contract award datasets.

By 2013, the convergence of new access to information policies, modernization reforms, and various technologies helped the Bank think differently about the information it provides the public. The launch of its first Procurement App is a prime example.

The most attractive feature of our Procurement App is that it makes contract information not only easily available but also easy to understand.  It’s an intuitive tool designed for public consumption.  You don’t need to understand  procurement to benefit from this powerful source of information" commented Joao Veiga Malta, Manager, Procurement Program at the World Bank.