Transparency in the procurement process and in the implementation of procurement contracts is one of the principles enshrined in Republic Act 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act) alongside the principles of competitiveness, public monitoring, accountability, and streamlined procurement process. In promoting transparency in government procurement activities, government agencies are mandated to publish all bid opportunities and post all awards and contracts in the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS).
However, public access to contracting information from planning up to implementation is limited. Most contracting documents are not published online and are being kept internally by agencies. The current version of the PhilGEPS does not have information on the planning and implementation stage. This situation makes tracking and monitoring of government projects difficult, which in turn makes government procurement activities susceptible to fraud, collusion, and corruption.
With support from HIVOS, the https://southcotabato.gov.ph/Provincial Government of South Cotabato in partnership with the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines implemented an open contracting program in order strengthen transparency and accountability in local procurement systems in the province of South Cotabato. This culminated with the publication of local procurement activities in a centralized portal in compliance with the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS).
To cultivate use of open contracting data, ECCP desires to build capacity of prospective users in understanding public procurement as well in using contracting data for various purposes, including research. ECCP partnered with the Notre Dame of Marbel University (NDMU) to cultivate awareness and appreciation of teachers and students on the importance of public procurement and in using contracting data in academic research.
Two training programs were conducted to prepare proponents for the open contracting research thinking through research topics. The first one conducted last 2 February 2020 and focused on the discussion of open contracting and its value in promoting transparency and accountability, as well as improving public service delivery. The second training, conducted on 15 February 2020, focused on cultivating use cases and enabling the participants to start thinking about potential research projects on open contracting.
After the two trainings, participants we asked to submit proposals for the 1st South Cotabato Open Contracting Challenge. Three proposals were received were the following:
- Forecasting Contractor Performance Using Non-Parametric Models by Cubort Bulanon and Chucky Marie Fernandez
- Citizen’s Project Monitoring Management System by Rodulfo Dorado and Elisha Susana Alvarico
- Cost-Efficiency of Procurement by Lot by Michelle Capistrano, Jennifer Era, and Rean May Galang
On March 11-13 2020, the proponents were invited to a BootCamp designed by Step Up Consulting’s strategy advisor, Michael Canares. He was joined by mentors and facilitators Ben Hur, Frei Sangil, and Vien Suerte to help polish and finalize the research proposals for implementation. The research outputs will be presented in June 2020.