Increasing the Integrity of Public Procurement in Moldova

Increasing the Integrity of Public Procurement in Moldova

Increasing the Integrity of Public
Procurement in Moldova

PTF Makes Progress in Moldova With Critical Anti-Corruption Projects

May 13, 2024:  When Maia Sandu won election as President of Moldova at the end of 2020 she wrote on Facebook that she hoped the result would mark “the end of the reign of thieves in Moldova.”

The fight against corruption that President Sandu has been waging is not just a rejection of years of corrupt oligarch power in this tiny country that borders Ukraine, but a vital requirement for Moldova’s membership in the European Union.

Moldova’s President Maia Sandu

PTF’s multi-year project is an important component in Moldova’ struggle against corruption.

PTF is playing a key advisory role in support of the Moldovan civil society organization, the Institute for Development and Social Initiatives (IDIS) “Viitorul”, to counter one of the largest sources of bribery and crime in the country – crooked public procurement contracting.

“We are at a key stage in this important project that is securing successes in increasing public procurement transparency through citizen monitoring and reporting,” says Hady Fink, PTF Project Manager. He adds, “We have witnessed significant progress throughout this multi-year project, and we are confident that our efforts in strengthening Civil Society capacity and the mechanisms and tools to support their efforts will bring about meaningful results, together with IDIS, as the project moves into its final year to mid-2025”.

Hady Fink noted that training programs, engagement of journalists, securing publicity for transparency in public contracting and establishing effective digital platforms are some of the key goals of the project that are being attained. The project is being funded by the US State Department.

Training civil society organizations to monitor public procurement and to report on abuses in efforts to heighten transparency and accountability is a leading project area for PTF. PTF Advisors with extensive experience in this field have worked in numerous countries and the successful progress in Moldova, for example, follows the completion of a highly successful PTF project in Ukraine.

A report from the Open Contracting Partnership and Spend Network estimates that globally governments spend $13 trillion a year on public contracts for goods, services and works.  But less than 3% ($363 billion) is published openly. Opaque contracts that are missing information shut out businesses, journalists and civil society from analyzing and interrogating the data.

Current Project Status:

The current Project Phase 3  consists of four main components:  1. Subgrantee Monitoring. 2. Digital Platform. 3. Coalition Building. 4. Stakeholder Engagement and National Platform for Public Procurement (NPPP).

Subgrantee Monitoring: The first round of eight subgrants for the monitoring project were successful. The subgrantees formulated sixty-nine notifications and recommendations to government authorities and 231 reports on their activities. The grantees learned from their experiences and expressed a desire to do future monitoring. The second round of five subgrants is currently underway and is expected to finish later this year.

Digital Platform: A subcontractor (SensMedia) was selected to create and launch the Digital Platform, supervised by IDIS.

Coalition Building: The Coalition of Monitors has met three times. Participants included over 30 stakeholders with varied backgrounds and made recommendations to the government.

Stakeholder Engagement and National Platform for Public Procurement (NPPP): The inaugural meeting occurred in December 2023. Stakeholders included Moldovan national and local government organizations, as well as CSOs representing the Coalition. The Moldovan Ministry of Finance committed to systemic and organized participation of its representatives in the activities of the NPPP through the signing of a cooperation agreement with IDIS. The NPPP is scheduled to meet on a quarterly basis.

May 23, 2024: Moldova Project’s Public Procurement Monitoring Coalition held its 4th Working Meeting

April 5, 2024: Moldova: Second Working Session of the National Platform for Public Procurement

Please find more information on the project and our project partner below.

About Our Partner

IDIS Viitorul was established in June 1993 as a non-profit organization in Moldova. Its mission is to contribute to the growth of an independent thinking environment in Moldova and in other emerging democracies; to assist in the creation of a modern, viable and open market-economy; to assist in the expansion of a civil society in which the citizens act together to express their own interests; to exchange information; and to strive for mutual goals and influence government.

IDIS has implemented six projects and produced a number of policy notes on procurement in addition to many projects and policy notes in other areas. IDIS staff and consultants have acquired considerable expertise in detecting and analyzing how procurement laws and best practices are circumvented at the expense of society at large. They have also developed skills in designing a framework to prevent such practices which is indispensable for the development of a transparent and efficient procurement system. IDIS partners with regional governments, state agencies and private companies/contractors working towards building such a framework and committed to operating within it. IDIS is the founder of the National Business Agenda, a partnership with a wide range of private partners, including clusters of industries and business associations. The National Business Agenda assists partners building institutional capacity, enrich public-private dialogue and forge coalitions to boost regulatory policies.

Overview

In September 2020, in partnership with the Institute for Development and Social Initiatives (IDIS) Viitorul in Moldova, PTF embarked on a project to enhance the capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) and journalists to engage in informed and responsible monitoring of public procurement. This project aims to support procurement reforms in Moldova that will increase the transparency and fairness of public procurement by empowering citizens, specifically civil society representatives and investigative journalists, to hold relevant institutions accountable. In October 2022, the State Department granted PTF an extension of the project duration through to June 2025.

Project Summary

The project will train CSOs, journalists, and other relevant groups, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to understand the risks of abuse at all levels of the procurement process and to prepare them to professionally and responsibly monitor public procurement at all stages. CSOs and investigative journalists from the Republic of Moldova who participate in the training program facilitated by PTF and IDIS will subsequently monitor public procurement in the country through a series of projects funded by sub-grants, and they will provide recommendations for improving the process and strengthening the integrity of the sector as a result of their monitoring work. A key tool to facilitate such monitoring is the e-procurement platform MTender, the pilot version of which was launched in 2018 and which is in the process of being expanded and updated. Outputs of the project will be at least fifteen organizations in Moldova, as well as CSOs and journalists that have been trained to understand the risks in procurement, important red flags, risk indicators, and risk evaluation. In addition, 12 of the trained CSOs will be selected for 18 months of funding to engage in actual monitoring, while receiving mentoring and support from the project team. Outcomes will include trained civil society watchdogs that will identify, quantify, document, and report abuses/irregularities to relevant Moldovan authorities for action and redress.

Intended Impact

As a result of their participation in the project, CSOs and investigative journalists who participate in the project training program and undertake the monitoring exercises will be better equipped to hold authorities to account, and to promote efficient and sustainable procurement reforms in the Republic of Moldova. Ultimately, these reforms will improve public financial management, promote efficiency, integrity and transparency in public administration, and raise the relevance and quality of the services provided to the citizens by public institutions.

Project Objectives

The overall goal of the project is to encourage more transparent and effective use of public funds and ensure improved delivery of good and services to the citizens of Moldova.

The objectives of the program are the following:

  • Moldovan civil society organizations (CSOs) and journalists are sufficiently equipped to conduct meaningful monitoring of procurement processes;
  • Procurement processes are appropriately monitored by Moldovan CSOs and journalists making use of the e-procurement system; and
  • Findings and recommendations resulting from credible and professional CSO monitoring are taken seriously and acted upon by contracting entities, contractors, and government oversight and law enforcement entities including the National Anticorruption Center.

Additional Information: Civil Society Monitoring of Public Procurement

Project Activities

The project is conducted in three phases: inception, training, and monitoring.

In the inception phase, the project team conducted a baseline survey and a series of informant interviews with key stakeholders to gather the information needed to solidify the project plan and ensure all major considerations were accounted for. This phase also included a risk analysis which allowed the team to adjust plans as needed in order to mitigate potential challenges to the project activities.

During the training phase, the team assessed the needs of participating CSOs and investigative journalists in order to prepare a curriculum and suite of training materials that would best suit their skills and interests. The training program consisted of twelve modules of two sessions each, and ran from October to December 2021. The training introduced the concept of effective and responsible procurement monitoring, emphasizing risks in procurement, important red flags, risk indicators and risk evaluation. It stressed the importance of a systematic approach with the use of checklists covering different stages of the procurement process, access to reliable data and analytical tools. By the conclusion of the program, over forty Moldova-based CSO representatives and investigative journalists were equipped to monitor public procurement process. All participants were selected through an open application process based on their experience and interest.

Following the completion of the training, the monitoring phase began, during which trainees monitored live public procurement contracts, with continued support from IDIS and PTF. CSOs and investigative journalists who participated in the training were able to apply for subgrants from the project in order to carry out this work. The project team and experts will assist the monitoring CSOs in analyzing procurement data and preparing queries and requests for investigation by Moldovan entities responsible for overseeing the procurement system, including law enforcement agencies in the case of suspected criminal activities and corruption. If these entities are not seen to take appropriate action, the monitoring CSOs, with the help of the project team, will work with international and bilateral donors represented in Moldova to incorporate such issues as part of their high-level policy dialogue with the government.

Project Team

Hady Fink

Project Manager, PTF Europe

Karin Millett

Adviser and Board Member, PTF

Sabine Engelhard

Chief Legal Procurement Adviser, PTF

Johannes Tonn

Adviser, PTF

Lars Jeurling

Procurement Technical Specialist, PTF Europe

Gianmarco Frezza

Junior Project Consultant, PTF

Carolina Ungureanu

Project Coordinator and Deputy Director of International Cooperation, IDIS

Diana Enachi

Project Coordinator and Public Procurement Expert, IDIS

Viorel Pîrvan

Expert Consultant, IDIS

Vadim Turcan

Expert Consultant, IDIS

Maria Procopciuc

Communications Officer, IDIS

Additional Information

Moldova: Second Working Session of the National Platform for Public Procurement
Moldova Project's Public Procurement Monitoring Coalition held its 4th Working Meeting
The Third Working Meeting of the Coalition for Monitoring Public Procurement
Ninth Edition: Monitoring Moldova’s Public Procurement
Eighth Edition: Monitoring Moldova’s Public Procurement
Articles, explanatory videos, journalistic investigations, TV shows, infographics, and public events are some of the outputs of the civil society organizations awarded grants to monitor public procurement under the Increasing the Integrity of Public Procurement project, which is implemented by the Institute for Development and Social Initiatives (IDIS) Viitorul in collaboration with Partnership for Transparency. On November 30 and December 1, 2022, civil society representatives and the project team met online to discuss their experiences and share the results and impact of their projects during the preceding three months of implementation.
The September 2022 issue of Monitoring Moldova's Public Procurement details what the role of civil society in fighting corruption in public procurement is, who is behind rigged tenders, what caused the record increase in procurement in the first part of the year, and what young people think about public procurement monitoring.

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