The scene repeats itself over and over again. The end of the month arrives and you ask yourself: “How did I spend my salary so quickly? How do I make it last? What am I investing in?” If you could have all this information in one place, would you be interested in accessing it?
The same thing happens to governments. They try to achieve efficient spending while at the same time promoting efficacy, transparency, competition and value for money. However, this process is more complex for governments because it requires them to obtain, filter, add and analyze a huge amount of data coming from multiple sources, often in different formats. It doesn’t stop there, because they must also use this information effectively to make strategic decisions in different areas, one being the procurement of goods, services and public works.
To deal with this, governments must have current, accurate and timely data in order to analyze their spending behavior, know the supplier market they’re operating in, and thus make informed decisions in their procurement processes. Transparency (defined as timely and easy access to information) is vital to this process.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, the use of electronic tools to promote transparency and efficiency in government procurement and contracting has become widespread. At least 80% of these countries have an electronic portal to publish their various agencies’ business opportunities, but few have a specialized module for data analysis or business intelligence, which is why it is common in the region for cases to arise in which a department pays up to 50% more for goods sold by the same supplier.
Data for Public Procurement: from Capture to Analysis
Although efforts have been done on publishing information, in many cases the data is still heterogenous, presented in different formats, or difficult to process. For information to be useful, it’s important to follow standards for its presentation so that it can be processed and analyzed easily, and ultimately allow it to meet the goal of providing quality information that facilitates achieving efficient public spending.
The digital transformation that Latin America and the Caribbean is undergoing in regards to government procurement can facilitate this task. If we consider that governments make strategic decisions regarding the use of public resources on a daily basis and many of these decisions result in a contracting or procurement process (at least 21% of public spending), it is essential to have an information structure from whom, where, how and at what price public entities procure.
Data is essential to this transformation since it is the key ingredient in the creation of algorithms that feed artificial intelligence systems, as well as in the creation of codes required for machine learning. In the future, procurement tasks will be automatic and based on routines thanks to technology. It should be noted that the region has started taking its first steps towards improving the collection, processing and visualization of data so that it can be analyzed and used.
Paraguay’s Interactive Tender Map
A recent example is Paraguay, in which the National Directorate of Public Procurement (DNCP in Spanish), with the support of the IDB, managed to create and implement a technological tool that allows for georeferencing of public works being tendered. The “Interactive Public Works Map” shows the geographic location of the public works tendered in the country, allowing you to search by the name of the tender, hiring entity, stage and dates. It also allows you to access detailed information on contracts and provides an option to file complaints. All of the country’s government agencies are required to use it, which makes it possible to achieve efficiencies in terms of price and greater competition, and in turn facilitates accountability.
Brazil’s Price Panel
In Brazil, it was clear that information on public procurement was not easy for procurement system users to access or use. For this reason, the Secretariat of Management of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Management developed the Price Panel program. This module provides structured data that allows for more complete market information, as well as online price analyses and comparisons.
Beta Launch of Chile’s Open Data Portal
The Directorate of Government procurement and contracting -ChileCompra- has launched the beta version of its open data portal, which provides information on government agencies’ procurement for analysis, research, monitoring, auditing or other relevant purposes, as well as the development of new applications.
Day 2 of the Global Public Procurement Conference
If you’re interested in all of the above and want to learn more about these cases and others from around the world, we invite you to view the Global Public Procurement Conference livestream, especially the “Demystification of Data Management” panel on Wednesday, September 19 at 9 a.m. EST time.
Tuesday, September 18th, 9:00h to 17:30h EST (Washington, DC time)
Wednesday, September 19th, 9:00h a 11:30h EST (Washington, DC time)