Bootcamp activity in framework of Open ICT Education for Youth Employability Project

In framework of Open ICT Education for Youth Employability Project, funded by the EU and implemented by Open Data Kosovo and Albanian Institute of Science (AIS) through the IPA Cross Border Cooperation Programme Albania – Kosovo, was held the three day event of Bootcamp.

Bootcamp took place on Sharri Hotel, Prizren on 24-26 January 2020.

30 most successful students, from seven targeted Educational Institutions, who have completed the three courses from Kursori.org platform attended the Bootcamp (a three-day hackathon).

10 groups of 3 students each have creating different informative, e-commerce, gaming, advertising websites. These 10 prototypes (digital solutions) were developed based on the current market demand both in Kosovo and Albania.

Here are the teams and their prototypes:

  • Team Orange (Redian Marku, Xhoana Çuni, and Gentrit Morina) developed this tech-tools online store to promote tech goods for companies through a highly functional, productive, and attractive website. Students have used the Django framework, Javascript, Python, and Bootstrap to effectively create the solution.

Website: https://go-shopal.herokuapp.com

  • Team Grey (Marina Ferati, Duresa Kilaj, and Atdhe Fetahaj) developed this website for Hotel Sharri, where the Bootcamp was also held. They used CSS, HTML, and Javascript to effectively develop the solution.

Website: https://elastic-mahavira-3d1211.netlify.com

  • Team White; the Winning Team (Luiza Martinaj, Ilir Perolli, and Orlando Murati) developed this online bookstore to promote books and reading in general. Students have used PHP, MySQL, HTML, and Bootstrap to effectively create the solution.

Website: http://amici.epizy.com/kursori_bootcamp/orlando/index.html

  • Team Black (Arielin Muca, Stela Dedgjonaj, and Shpat Dylatahu) developed this Online Market Store. They used HTML, CSS, and Javascript, connected to a database developed through PHP and MySQL.

Website: http://deppo-market.epizy.com/?i=1

  • Team Yellow (Ajshe Komoni, Andi Kalia, Alba Zefi) developed this informative website aiming to help foreigners easy explore beautiful sights in Albanian lands. They used CSS, HTML, Javascript, and Bootstrap to effectively develop the solution.

Website: https://tourismalbania.netlify.com

  • Team Green (Valento Bardhoshi, Klementina Gjeta, and Sildja Diva) developed this fashion website (e-commerce like) aiming to increase online shopping in Kosovo and Albania. They used Javascript, PHP, and Bootstrap to effectively develop the solution.

Website: https://stylish-threads.netlify.com

  • Team Purple (Rubin Zefi, Fatlind Mazreku, and Adnand Shabani) developed this e-gaming website aiming to promote online games for different gaming platforms. They used Javascript, Bootstrap, HTML, and CSS to effectively develop the solution.

Website: https://kiloogame.netlify.com/#0

  • Team Blue (Eneida Jaku, Kejsi Brozi, and Drilon Manjani) developed this Lezha Tourism website aiming to promote and showcase beautiful sights in Lezha and place around Lezha. They used HTML, Javascript, and CSS to effectively develop the solution.

Website: https://lezha.netlify.com

  • Team Pink (Ibrahim Thaqi, Daniel Frrokaj, and Lusiana Mulaj) developed this travel agency website aiming to promote landscapes and beautiful sights. They used HTML, CSS, Bootstrap, and Javascript to effectively develop the solution.

Website: https://ibrahimthaqi.github.io/Vector-Travel/index.html

  • Team Red (Jonida Paja, Elgis Hakaj, and Endriola Bardhi) developed this restaurant website for a region in Albania, namely, Laguna e Patokut. They used HTML, CSS, Javascript, and Bootstrap to effectively develop the solution.

Website: https://patoku-park.netlify.com/index.html

In between their coding hours, students played games, interacted with one another by forming a strong, and connected cross-border Kursori.org community!

Technology is one of the most powerful weapons which you can use to change the world“.

Integrity in Public Procurement – Open Contracting Data Standard for more Integrity

Title of Presentation: Integrity in Public Procurement – Open Contracting Data Standard for more Integrity

By: Aranita BRAHAJ, representative of AIS – Open Procurement Albania

Event: Corruption and Anti-Corruption in Albania – Some insights on what can be done.

Seminar organized by Embassy of Sweden in Tirana.

 

Corruption is one of the most problematic issues for the country. Justice institutions or anti-corruption mechanisms are weak to non-existent. Nevertheless, media and watchdog organizations continue to report facts and contribute against abuse with public money. Public procurement’s remain one of the most risky domains. The economic damage caused to the budget by lack of efficiency and clientelism in tenders is estimated as high. Official audits verify violations and irregularities in about 30% of the cases being audited. The economic damage estimated by the Supreme Audit Institution is about 300 million Euros annually. The number of businesses companies competing for high-value contracts is small and foreign and international companies of integrity are reluctant to become part of tenders for major public works in the country. Nevertheless, high-value contracts or concessionary PPPs, where assets and deadlines are of particular importance have been recently awarded to unknown companies registered in fiscal havens or in countries, where shell companies are allowed to operate, knowing nothing about the identity and integrity of their owners.

AIS is a local organization committed to transparency, accountability, and anti-corruption. We are known in the country as Open Data Albania committed to creating instruments that open data; make them accessible and understandable by increasing awareness and civic response.  In the recent years, we have empowered the public in the country with several databases and catalogs for transparent information. Follow the Money has become an easier practice as long as:

  • We publish treasure transactions and relevant descriptions for 1600 budgetary institutions every day; data on contracts by their values
  • We structure information on the asset declarations of appointed and elected high-level officials and politicians, making their interests and economic powers understandable.
  • We publish data on the structure, owners, economic performance of contracted business companies, and partners with the institutions for implementing contracts for services, civil works, or purchases.

One of our most important instruments in anti-corruption is our Open Procurement Albania database. http://openprocurement.al/en/index/index

In reducing corruption in procurement, watchdog actors and control, monitoring, and risk assessment instruments are particularly important. All of this enables public and civic pressure for more regular processes, timely auditing, and a clear assessment of the forms of abuse and misappropriation.

The database we have developed is in line with a well-known standard in recent years, which is Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS). This standard provides transparency for all phases of contracting: from project planning, tender, selection of bidders, negotiation of contracts, implementation, and payments.

This standard is offered by an International Partnership, namely the Open Contracting Partnership, applied nowadays in 33 countries, in their public e-procurement systems. Albania is committed under the 2018 Action Plan for the Open Government partnership (OGP) to apply this standard. But procurement agencies are reluctant in applying this standard that guarantees Openness in Public Contracting and leads to greater impact.  Open contracting makes public procurement fair and more efficient. Openness, participation, and cooperation across government, business, and civil society helped sustain reforms and deepen their impact.

Our organization has established a well-structured database with data on tenders for local government[1], the Albanian Development Fund[2], Albanian Road Authority[3], Health Sector[4] Institutions and State Owned Corporate[5]. We collect data and documents manually on daily basis and enter them into a catalogue by the open data standard. This system enables the functioning of an algorithm, where data are automatically scanned and tenders are marked with redflag, showing risk indicators for lack of competition; lack of equality among operators; and competition irregularities. The system is a very good instrument for public pressure for fair contracting. The use of this standard by an organization, rather than by a procuring authority marks a somewhat special case for Albania.

Opening data, structuring information by institutions, scanning risk elements through an automatic algorithm, with only 5 risk indicators being assessed, the following have been have been marked for irregularities and problems with competition:

The Supreme Audit Institution is committed through an agreement to use this risk assessment system for its indicators to be referred to in drafting the Annual Health Auditing Plan.

In simple words, if there is only one competing operator participating in a tender, the tender has a high margin of clientelist criteria; it proves lack of trust by the other operators in the competition, and lack of competition.

Likewise, cases of all competitors being disqualified lead to suspicions for pre-determined and fictitious competition.

Transparency helps journalists, businesses, and citizens understand and react to corruption. Our best and final goal is for the redflag algorithm to be applied by the procurement authorities as a self-assessment and performance improvement instrument.

Following indications of tenders exposed to risk, internal auditors can start auditing procedures and actions by employees, institutions can verify the clientelist criteria and deadlines, and equally authorities can react by making an assessment of human resources efficiency in procurements according to the types of problems indicated.

We will continue to use this open data standard to contracting and contractors. Journalists will continue to use the data and lists of tenders and businesses marked by RedFlags. Watchdog organizations will continue to easily monitor the distribution of public contracts, understanding their defects and problems. However, finally, the integrity of Public Procurement is closely linked to the use of transparency standards and the application of risk assessment standards.

[1] http://openprocurement.al/en/tender/list

[2] http://openprocurement.al/en/albaniandf/list

[3] http://openprocurement.al/en/arsh/list

[4] http://openprocurement.al/en/arsh/list

Treasury payment 2019, the institution of the highest portfolio

Tirana Municipality has paid through treasury transactions executed in 2019 (January 1st to December 31st) a total amount of 14 126 289 737 (fourteen billion and one hundred and twenty-six million and two hundred and eighty-thousand and seven hundred and thirty-seven) Lekë. Equivalent to about 115.8 million Euros. http://spending.data.al/sq/treasury/list/year/2015/inst_code/2101001/from_date_reg/2019-01-01/to_date_reg/2020-01-01

With this payment portfolio, Tirana Municipality ranks as the Institution of the highest budget for payments executed in 2019. Check link: http://spending.data.al/sq/treasury/graph

It stands higher than the central institutions of a high portfolio, such as the Albanian Road Authority; the Albanian Development Fund; Mother Teresa University Hospital Centre, etc.

The following municipalities are far lower, including Durres with only 2.74 billion leke, or Kamza with 2.27 billion leke.

The assessment refers to the Municipality’s direct budget only, without taking into consideration its subordinate institutions or the public-owned ones. This municipality has now more than 1 million residents, which provides a large taxpayer base. The municipality has a good tax collection performance, which enables a secure portfolio for expenditures and investments. In 2019, Tirana Municipality has also spent projects from the central government through the Regional Development Fund programs.

Other institutions of significance for the 2019 payment portfolio are accessible under the Treasury Transactions, where, in addition to values, a list of payments, including descriptions and beneficiaries can also be detailed.

The procurement law, Brahaj: It does not solve the impasse, deep reform needed.

The latest legal amendments to the public procurement law do not solve the impasse created with tenders. The director of Open Data Albania, Aranita Brahaj, states that the government interventions are not sufficient, and she thinks a deep reform is needed in this sector.

More than amendments to the law, what we mostly need is a reformed public procurement system. The law does meet some of the needs, but not those related to transparency and competitiveness. However, in order to change deadlines, we need to clearly analyze how the integrity of public contractors is going to be checked, i.e. competitors who will be awarded public contracts, especially those registered in different countries, where business registers abide by different rules.

Brahaj proposes the establishment of an electronic system, as well as the presence of a third international actor in monitoring public contracts as the two most effective ways to counter corruption in tenders.

Contracts financed by the public budget required for very high-value procurement processes need to have a third actor, who must be a monitoring actor, who assesses the risk criteria in tenders. What l consider a gap is the lack of a risk assessment system, i.e. an algorithm in the electronic system.

According to Aranita Brahaj, the law must have been accompanied by the relevant secondary legislation in order to avoid irregularities and tenders without competition.

Youtube: HERE

Our Project Open Contracting Albania and Red Flag Index Impact, media coverage, and public pressure

There have been dozens of media articles published every month based on the data provided by the system for Transparent Procurement and Red Flag algorithm. The articles are generally of a reporting nature and quite discrete usually in the arguments they provide. The information available has helped especially fact based journalism. There have never been so many articles in the media on public tenders and contracts.

Potential Audience

Citizens; Media Representatives; Citizens Advisory Panels of Municipalities, Citizens Counsels, local and central government institutions interested in good models of opening up public information; Stakeholders and representatives of organizations involved in watchdog or advocacy processes; Parties interested in implementation of Open Contracting models.

 

The information has encouraged model of reporting, investigative, reactive, and very civilized journalism

Some of the titles of these articles in English are listed below:

  1. Contract for Skenderbeg Square, an additional amount of money for Fusha Sh.p.k.

https://exit.al/en/2018/11/16/e1-million-more-to-fusha/

  1. Fusha wins Vlora Boulevard tender in another dubious procedure

https://exit.al/en/2018/03/28/fusha-wins-vlora-boulevard-tender-in-another-dubious-procedure/

  1. Municipality of Tirana gives 360 thousand EU in a suspicious tender

https://exit.al/en/2019/02/19/municipality-of-tirana-gives-e360-thousand-in-a-suspicious-tender/

  1. Here are the 50 business companies which have won most of the municipality tenders.

https://shqiptarja.com/lajm/investimetja-50-subjektet-te-cilat-kane-marre-me-shume-tendera-nga-bashkite

  1. Elbasan municipality carries out tenders without competition and in conflict of interest

http://www.qualityjournalism.com.al/2018/08/25/bashkia-elbasan-tendera-jo-transparente-dhe-hije-konflikti-interesi/

  1. The entire State on Fusha shpk (business). More than 43 million lekë in contracts from the Local Government

https://exit.al/2018/08/gjithe-shteti-per-fusha-shpk-mbi-e43-milione-kontrata-nga-pushteti-lokal/

  1. Shkodra and Tirana mayors sign tenders beyond their mandate

http://shekulli.com.al/tirana-e-shkodra-kryebashkiaket-firmosin-tendere-pertej-mandatit/

  1. Tenders without competition. Voltana Ademi (Shkodra mayor) turns the municipality into her own property

https://www.gazetatema.net/2018/10/08/tendera-pa-gare-voltana-ademi-e-kthen-bashkine-e-shkodres-ne-prone-te-saj/

  1. Albanian Development Fund disqualifies 10 companies from the race, except for the winner

https://www.faktor.al/2019/03/07/fondi-shqiptar-i-zhvillimit-skualifikon-10-kompani-pervec-fituesit-emri-i-kompani-shume-te-njohur/

  1. Which are the companies that have got most of the tenders this year, with Fusha shpk leading

http://www.rd.al/2018/07/kush-jane-5-kompanite-qe-kane-fituar-me-shume-para-nga-tenderat-ne-3-vite-kryeson-fusha-shpk/

  1. Tirana municipality tender conducts suspicious tender for maintenance of the lighting system.

https://shekulli.com.al/bashkia-tirane-tender-i-dyshimte-per-mirembajtjen-e-ndricimit/

  1. The High State Audit: the Urban Renaissance Project, Belsh municipality conducts illegal tenders, municipality reaction.

https://www.gazetatema.net/2018/05/29/klsh-rilindja-urbane-e-belshit-u-be-me-tendera-te-paligjshem-reagon-bashkia/

  1. Kavaja mayor conducts ten suspicious tenders within the year

https://shqiptarja.com/lajm/kryebashkiaku-i-kavajes-10-tendera-te-dyshimte-brenda-vitit

  1. 10% of the municipality tenders are awarded on clientelism bases

https://lapsi.al/2018/05/29/10-e-tenderave-te-bashkive-jepen-me-klientelizem/

  1. Luxury and corruption in the Prime Minister’s Office

https://exit.al/2019/05/luks-dhe-korrupsionin-ne-ndertesen-e-edi-rames/

  1. 6 million Euros for 400 pine trees. Tirana Municipality Tender, Democratic Party reports the case to the Posecutor’s Office

http://www.panorama.com.al/2-6-milione-euro-per-400-pisha-pd-kallezon-penalisht-veliajn-ja-dy-akuzat/

  1. Municipalities allocate 62 billion lekë more for tenders before the Elections

https://a2news.com/2019/05/14/bashkite-62-miliarde-leke-me-shume-per-tendere-para-zgjedhjeve/

  1. On the edge of elections, Mayor Veliaj allocates 1 more billion lekë for tenders

https://gazetamapo.al/para-zgjedhjeve-veliaj-1-miliarde-leke-me-shume-tendera/

  1. Klos Municipality awards 3 tenders to the mayors company

https://portavendore.al/2019/05/20/bashkia-klos-tre-tendere-ish-kompanise-se-kryetarit/

  1. Tirana municipality announces tender over 104m lekë for Youth Park

https://portavendore.al/2019/05/01/bashkia-e-tiranes-shpall-tenderin-mbi-104-milione-leke-per-parkun-rinia-ja-si-do-te-jete/

  1. Call for tenders for the Zogu i Parë Boulevard announced, 7 million $ for600 meters.

https://portavendore.al/2019/03/13/hapet-tenderi-per-bulevardin-zogu-i-pare-7-milione-dollare-per-600-metra/

  1. Ten companies win half of the 1 billion tenders of municipalities

https://portavendore.al/2018/09/12/dhjete-kompani-fitojne-gjysmen-e-tendereve-1-miliardesh-te-bashkive/

  1. Tirana municipality conducts 103 suspicious tenders for 6 months

https://portavendore.al/2018/12/07/bashkia-e-tiranes-103-tendere-te-dyshimte-per-6-muaj/

  1. Elbasan municipality, conducts tenders without competition and suspicions of conflict of interest

https://portavendore.al/2018/08/29/bashkia-e-elbasanit-tendere-pa-gare-dhe-hije-te-konfliktit-te-interesit/

  1. Municipalities spend 58 million lekë for parties and decorations.

https://portavendore.al/2019/01/04/bashkite-harxhojne-58-milione-leke-per-festa-dhe-zbukurime/

  1. Another illegal contract of 4 million euro signed by Tirana Municipality for the company of Member of Parliament Abazi

https://exit.al/2018/12/tjeter-kontrate-e-paligjshme-prej-4-milione-euro-nga-bashkia-tirane-per-alko-impex/

  1. Unbelievable misappropriation, The State Budget is shared between friends and members of parliament. Unbelievable figures

http://www.droni.al/2019/04/07/super-vjedhje-buxheti-i-shtetit-eshte-ndare-me-miqte-dhe-deputetet-shifrat-te-marrin-frymen/

  1. Scandal! We have no water, but 100 million go to the physical security of the water supply facility

http://www.standard.al/2019/04/16/skandali-nuk-kemi-uje-por-100-milion-leke-shkojne-pe-kompanite-qe-ruajne-ujsjellesin/

  1. Red flag tenders in Finiq Municipality

https://sarandaweb.net/tenderi-me-flamur-te-kuq-ne-bashkine-finiq-2-leke-me-pak-se-fondi-limit/

  1. 10% of Municipality Public Procurement appeared to be problematic

https://exit.al/2018/05/prokurimet-publike-te-bashkive-10-perqind-e-tendereve-me-probleme-konkurrence/

  1. Skanderbeg Square, the battle of billions of lekë over the last 10 years

https://faktoje.al/sheshi-skenderbej-dhe-beteja-miliarda-lekeshe-e-dekades-se-fundit/

  1. Fusha Company wins another tender without competition, setting a record of 43 contracts without competition by Mayor Veliaj.

https://lapsi.al/2019/04/15/kompania-fusha-fiton-nje-tjeter-tender-pa-gare-rekord-43-kontrata-nga-erion-veliaj/

  1. Sharra landfill takes away public money, and here are the payments made

https://balkanweb.com/landfilli-ne-sharre-vjel-parate-publike-e-private-ja-shifrat/

  1. Million lekë of tenders for the customers and insignificant amount of money for the citizens, a corruptive precedent with the Pazari i Ri

http://open.data.al/sq/lajme/lajm/id/2431/Miliona-per-klientet-therrime-per-qytetaret-precedenti-korruptiv-i-Veliajt-tek-Pazari-i-Ri

  1. 350 thousand dollars for a tender. Activist: this is why Spiropali must resign

http://open.data.al/sq/lajme/lajm/id/2416/350-mije-dollare-tendera-aktivistja-Pse-duhet-te-dorehiqet-Elisa-Spiropali