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FEATURE STORYJanuary 29, 2023

Boosting transparency of procurement and building citizen trust by using open contracting tools

Future of Government Case Study - Procurement - Medical supplies


  • Using technology, governments around the world can help enhance public service delivery, fight fraud and corruption, and enhance transparency for citizens.
  • Under some circumstances, technology can help to build trust and deliver more value for money to taxpayers.
  • Open data can help detect irregularities about procurement processes.

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Paraguay was hit hard by the coronavirus. The country witnessed demonstrations against perceived fraud, corruption, and a lack of accountability in addressing the health crisis, which put thousands of lives at risk.

Pablo Seitz, director of Paraguay’s National Public Procurement Agency (DNCP), explained what it felt like to suddenly be in the spotlight as the pandemic hit. “Everyone was suddenly looking at public contracts. People who had never heard anything about public procurement were visiting our website to find out what was happening with their money. While this generated a lot of pressure, it also put us in the position to become more efficient, speed up processes, and enhance the integrity of the entire system,” he explained.

Paraguay has a long history of implementing open contracting reforms with a robust open data and publication infrastructure. Open data has helped Paraguay’s National Public Procurement Agency (DNCP) create an early warning system with real-time monitoring of all emergency procurement processes.

Establishing prices and terms

Just 27 days after the start of the lockdown, the DNCP authorized the use of framework agreements (umbrella agreements under which several lots of goods or services can be purchased) in procurement processes. This allowed the DNCP to enter an agreement with potential suppliers by pre-establishing prices and terms. Agencies were now able to purchase goods quickly without having to launch a call for tenders, while maintaining transparency.

Before the health crisis, agencies had 10 days to inform the DNCP that a direct award had been signed following the emergency procedures. The new regulation forced agencies to publish the tender specifications as well as all of the details required by the Public Procurement Information System (SICP) at least 2 days before the tender opening date.

Setting up the notification system 

“The public started to detect irregularities early on and these were reported in the media. They helped us monitor public procurement. In some cases, the scrutiny led to resignations of the highest authorities involved,” explains Vazquez.

Open data analysis and citizen oversight have given rise to new monitoring tools and helped to detect irregularities which were previously hidden among the mass of information available about procurement processes.

The national procurement agency has set up a system of notifications to ensure that COVID-related calls for tenders are compliant. For example, the alert system checks the contract amounts and ensures compliance with the publicity periods specified. When a noncompliant tender is published, a notification is automatically sent to the head of the inspectorate’s cell phone indicating that a contract has been published that contains something against regulations.

The notification system is also useful for suppliers. Whenever an agency starts a procurement process to buy supplies for the pandemic, suppliers receive an alert from the system, including in cases of direct procurement where processes are shorter due to the urgency of the pandemic.

These measures have helped lower costs for the state and improved service delivery while increasing trust of citizens in the process of public contracting.

Read more about this case on Open Contracting


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