‘Prozorro’ makes its way to transparency, although it is sabotaged at all levels and calls for stronger monitoring from the civil society.
Kyiv, September 29, 2016. Open procurement database on the website “Texty” contains all agreements from 2008 till today and is constantly updated. It includes all sources of tenders in Ukraine – Bulletin of government procurement and e-procurement system Prozorro. It is the only procurement base in Ukraine. This was stated by Vladyslav Gerasymenko, data analyst, website “Texty” at a discussion held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “On the website you can find a particular producer and seller and see the whole process: what a particular government institution was purchasing and selling,” specified Anatoliy Bondarenko, director of “Data Journalism” section, website “Texty”.
According to him, “Prozorro” has a limited function: to open all information on biddings. “If there are problems, they start after Prozorro. How to make a customer do the right technical specifications to procure something more complex than fruits and vegetables? These are ecosystem problems around procurement,” explained Mr. Bondarenko.
To make bidders’ life easier, the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade has developed a library of sample specifications. “This is a library of best specification practices which we think are relevant, they are from good biddings of Prozorro. We are assisted by companies, we engage associations and we try to improve the existing specifications. There is also a designer for collecting the specification and announcing an auction,” said Oleksandr Starodubtsev, director of State Procurements Department, Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine. According to him, they are working on automatic access to the Unified State Register.
However, not everything is so good in the regions. According to Olga Nos, activist, NGO “Trypilskyi Krai”, Prozorro is sabotaged at the local level. Activists put it down to corruption. “Local deputies always have doubts and continue “to study” the question. An employee of the executive committee is also a private entrepreneur who is paid UAH 16,000 for administering the city site and four mailboxes on Gmail. A mayor’s driver gets 20,000 per month for car maintenance,” said Mrs. Nos. She is convinced that it is necessary to make pre-threshold procurement compulsory at the legislation level. It should start from some reasonable figure when it is a real savings for small towns and villages.
According to Victor Nestulya, program director for innovative projects, Transparensy International, Prozorro does not mean righteousness and efficiency. “It will come through pressure, advice, training and cooperation of the public, business and government,” he considers. Mr. Nestulya said that we should help businesses to defend their interests in the pre-threshold procurement. “Over two months we fulfill a year norm on complaints set by the Antimonopoly Committee. But justice is difficult to achieve because “pre-thresholds” are not subjected to the law,” he said. 80 per cent of complaints refer to customers’ decisions, when they disqualify the proposal involving the lowest price.
“The more data is accumulated, the more ways of their analysis appear. We see other relationship, other behavior. They become not only a monitoring technique and an anti-corruption instrument but a separate “value” that can be used to build providers’ ranking, for anti-corruption monitoring,” believes Volodymyr Flyons, head of NGO “Electronic Democracy”. “Prozorro is aimed to identify shortcomings and corruption. It is good that everything is discussed. Civil society should play first fiddle in monitoring. When the state controls itself, it turns into corruption,” added Oleksandr Starodubtsev.