PTF and Poder Ciudadano Launch COVID-19 Procurement Oversight in Argentina

July 27, 2020 — The Partnership for Transparency (PTF) is launching a COVID-19 emergency monitoring project with Poder Ciudadano, the Argentina Chapter of Transparency International.

Richard Stern, President of PTF said: “ We are making a $10,000 grant to , to Poder Ciudadano to lay the foundation for a substantial program to enhance the integrity, transparency, and effectiveness of COVID-19 emergency responses in Argentina. We intend the project to be a catalyst to attract substantial funding to scale-up this urgent and important program.”

This is PTF’s first such emergency COVID-19 grant in Latin America – a region where the pandemic has been spreading at a rapid rate. PTF has also launched COVID-19 projects in East and West Africa and in India.

National governments across Latin America, often with the support of multilateral and bilateral donors agencies, have been disbursing substantial sums for emergency medical equipment and supplies, hospital  and health system improvements, but concerns have been mounting that important safeguards are inadequate. The PTF-Poder Ciudadano project specifically addresses this concern.

Due to the urgency of countering the health crisis, standard procurement procedures and controls may be bypassed in favor of limited or non-competitive bidding approaches, direct negotiations with suppliers, and opaque reporting and oversight.

While Argentina has so far been spared the worst of the epidemic, the World Bank, IDB and CAF are providing millions of U.S. dollars in assistance. Argentina’s National Executive Power, through Decrees of Necessity and Urgency, has empowered national organizations to make procurements through much more flexible methods than the traditional system and with very few accountability mechanisms.

The new project aims to enhance the transparency of the financial flows from donors and national budgets to hospitals and clinics via the Public Procurement Observatory of Poder Ciudadano. The Public Procurement Observatory will carry out a series of activities that i) promote access to public information on procurements made during the emergency, ii) allow effective social control over each one of them, with centralized and quality information; iii) generate recommendations for improvement in the procurement system, ensuring the integrity of the affected public funds.

Some of these activities include creating a website, establish an Advisory Council, train local CSOs and will share recommendations based on local practices and lessons. These resources will enhance oversight regionally and beyond.

The project will also design and test an independent monitoring process in which civil society organizations will monitor and report on the storage, distribution and delivery of essential medical equipment and supplies to the beneficiary institutions—hospitals and clinics and provide the basis to resolve any problems so identified with the relevant authorities. The M&E system developed by this project is intended to serve as the basis of a nationwide rollout in the coming months and possible replication in other countries.

PTF’s global experience shows that monitoring by civil society organizations has a significant impact in improving outcomes, especially in health services. This investment is made in response to a contact made by Delia Ferreira, the chair of Transparency International, and helps meet the needs of our partner organizations.

This is the sixth PTF-sponsored COVID-19 emergency response project globally – two in India, Uganda, Ghana, and the Gambia and now Argentina. A additional program in Zambia is being prepared.

The Poder Ciudadano project also marks the first PTF-funded project in Latin America in 11 years since completion of the FONTRA program in 2009. FONTRA supported 28 small grant projects in six Southern Cone countries, funded by the IDB’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF).

For further information please contact Sam Stalls at PTF.