Open Contracting Data Standard
Georgia will continue working towards effective implementation of the principles of the Open Contracting Data Standard.
Based on the text in the national statement, this commitment is a general statement of intent to effectively implement the principles of the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS). It does not specify what principles are meant here nor in which area these principles are implemented. However, interviews clarified that this commitment is linked to Commitment 13 “Electronic innovations for more transparency and efficiency of public procurement” in the 2018–2019 OGP Action Plan. Therefore, this commitment can be considered specific by identifying a clear anti-corruption mechanism which is publication of open data around public procurement.
The commitment text does not identify any measurable actions to indicate whether it will have been achieved. However, in the 2019–2020 National Anti-Corruption Strategy and in the 2018–2019 National OGP Action Plan Commitment 13 “Electronic innovations for more transparency and efficiency of public procurement”, the government committed to the following:
5a) “transfer of the current year information available in the module of public procurement electronic annual plans built in the e-procurement system and disclosure on the web-page – opendata.spa.ge;
5b) creation of a web-page of new visualization on the database generated by OCDS (the new web-page will assist users in retrieving desired information in any correlation);
5c) creation of an API for accessing OCDS-based database;
5d) ensuring rather detailed (minimum of the second level) instructions of the CPV codes in electronic tenders of the E-Procurement system;
5e) OCDS-based database update; complete coverage of historical data created since 2011 and systemic update of current data.”
 Georgia’s National OGP Action Plan of 2018-2019, pp. 23-24, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Georgia_Action-Plan_2018-2019_ENG.doc
5a) “transfer of the current year information available in the module of public procurement electronic annual plans built in the e-procurement system and disclosure on the web-page – opendata.spa.ge”
With support of the World Bank and the Open Contracting Partnership (OCP), in 2019, the State Procurement Agency (SPA) launched a new open data portal, opendata.spa.ge. This portal contains exported and structured tender data (published in the JSON format) from the unified SPA portal. It has three sections on electronic tenders, annual procurement plans of procuring entities, and simplified and consolidated tenders.3
5b) “creation of a web-page of new visualization on the database generated by OCDS (the new web-page will assist users in retrieving desired information in any correlation)”
Also, in 2019, the SPA launched another open data portal, odapi.spa.ge (it is more accessible at vod.spa.ge), including visualisations with charts and tables. This portal was developed by an IT specialist from the World Bank.4
5c) “creation of an API for accessing OCDS-based database”
The portal also includes an application programming interface (API) to allow interested organisations to automatically link their websites to the portal and be able to undertake deeper analysis of the available data.5 However, this API only covers historical data through the first quarter of 2019, since no new data has been published since then.6
5d) “ensuring rather detailed (minimum of the second level) instructions of the CPV codes in electronic tenders of the e-procurement system”
While detailed instructions of the CPV (common procurement vocabulary) codes of the specific goods or services procured by public agencies were introduced to the e-procurement platform, the detailed CPV codes have not been integrated into the two open data portals, described above.
5e) “OCDS-based database update; complete coverage of historical data created since 2011 and systemic update of current data.”
These two portals function as a static repository of a part of the public procurement data rather than a continuously updated database that can be reused. The data published so far includes historical records through the first quarter of 2019. This data was updated manually rather than automatically in real time, which goes against the principles of the OCDS. Another problem is that data is only published in the JSON format, which is useful for a limited circle of IT specialists, but it is not useful for those using other formats such as the CSV or XML, for instance. Further, there is no data on simplified procurement contracts where corruption risks are the highest as well as no data on consolidated tenders. Therefore, even the CSOs working in the field are not using these new portals for public tender monitoring let alone the general public that is not even aware of their existence given the SPA has not conducted an information campaign about the portals or an in-depth analysis of the public use of them.4
Overall conclusion: based on the analysis above and given that the SPA has not created an API for accessing the up-to-date data from the OCDS-based database and has not updated this database since 2019 as committed in the 2018–2019 OGP Action Plan, this commitment is only partially fulfilled.
|Challenges to effective commitment implementation|
|According to the SPA, the main reason for the setback in implementation of this commitment is a lack of resources since the agency is currently focused on fulfilling the commitments stemming from the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, including the technical implementation of relevant legislative changes within the procurement system.4 That being said, TI Georgia believes that the SPA had great technical and expert support from the World Bank and the Open Contracting Partnership to move the implementation of this commitment forward, but the agency did not capitalise on this support, citing the reason mentioned above.4
|Opportunities to accelerate commitment implementation|
|According to interviews collected for this report, the most viable opportunity for the SPA is to use the vast resources, expertise and experience of the World Bank and OCP with direct stakes in this specific commitment and of other international donors and local CSOs to get the new open data portals up and running.
The SPA could also use the support of businesses that could provide additional resources in the context of public-private partnerships and corporate social responsibility. They could build innovative applications and services and generate income based on the government created public procurement portals that meet the OCDS principles. This would also reduce transaction costs, increase economic activity and ease the efforts of civil society to monitor public tenders.
Integrating the two new open data portals into the unified SPA portal could be considered an opportunity too since they would be better promoted to the journalists and the wider public. It would also become easier for the SPA and the CSOs to explain how the portals work as part of the unified platform, as opposed to having them as separate platforms. The SPA should cooperate with CSOs in individual and joint working meetings and consultations. For instance, as evidenced by TI Georgia’s experience, the agency had a practice of periodically meeting with CSOs some years ago, but this was discontinued after CSO representatives asked hard questions related to direct procurement contracts of number of procuring bodies, such as the AoG, disappearing from the public procurement website as well as some entities, such as the Ministry of Internal Affairs, not uploading their contracts.7 Nevertheless, the CSOs are willing to resume their participation in such meetings, and the SPA can use this as an opportunity to move ahead in implementation of this commitment.
The SPA should use the financial and IT support that is readily offered, and has been offered, by the World Bank and the OCP to mobilise the necessary resources to get its new open data portals up and running in accordance with the OCDS principles. Priority should be given to publishing up-to-date, real-time data in various open data formats on all public procurement procedures and stages and providing an API to interested individuals and organisations to re-use this data for their purposes.
The SPA should develop ownership of its open data portals. Otherwise, if all work is done through external support there is little chance that the agency will get such portals up and running once the donor project is completed, as evidenced in this case. The donor support should mainly be financial while the rest of the work, including planning the concept of the portal and testing it, should be the responsibility of the SPA.
Another recommendation for the SPA and the donors is to involve CSOs at the planning and design stage of developing such portals to provide them with an opportunity to raise issues of concern from the very beginning. CSO engagement should be a mandatory requirement. The SPA should engage CSOs in individual consultations and joint workshops and use their resources to implement the OCDS principles.
Finally, in collaboration with international donors, CSOs and the media, the SPA should carry out a large-scale information campaign and awareness raising measures on its new open data portals to generate more users for those portals. It is therefore necessary to provide training and consultations on the use of portals to different groups of society and to show them specific benefits.
- Georgia’s National OGP Action Plan of 2016-2018, pp.29-31, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Georgia_NAP_2016-2018_ENG.docx30 Dec 2021
- Georgia’s National OGP Action Plan of 2016-2018, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/georgia-national-action-plan-2016-201830 Dec 2021
- State Procurement Agency, http://opendata.spa.ge/#/30 Nov 2021
- Transparency International Georgia, Access to Public Procurement Database in Georgia Remains a Problem, 18 September 2020, https://transparency.ge/en/blog/access-public-procurement-database-georgia-remains-problem30 Dec 2021
- State Procurement Agency, https://odapi.spa.ge/api/swagger.ui30 Nov 2021
- OGP Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): Georgia Transitional Results Report 2018–2019, 3 August 2021, p. 13, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Georgia_Transitional-Results_Report_2018-2019_EN.pdf30 Dec 2021
- Interview with project manager at Transparency International Georgia15 Oct 2021