The newest project started by AIS is named Improvement of Integrity of the Public Contractor, Legislation, Practice and Role of Civic Actors. The project is supported by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as one of the MATRA Program in Albania. On July 18th, the Dutch Ambassador Ms. Guusje Korthals Altes and Director of AIS Ms Aranita Brahaj signed an agreement for the launching of the project activities. The project shall make an assessment of the national legislation, comparing it with EU member states regarding the selection and evaluation of the private companies competing for public contracts. The findings shall conclude and recommend improvements for the national legislation and practice. Empowering investigative media and civil actors monitoring public contracting processes is going to be one of the components of the project, focusing on issues related with the integrity of private contractors.
On the 26th of July, a round table was held in Tirana with journalists and representatives from the civil society on the Role of Central and Local Authorities during electoral periods, Monitoring Practices. The round table was organized by the Albanian Institute of Science (AIS) and the Institute for Political Studies (ISP), supported by USAID/Accelerated Civic Development and Cooperation Project. The two organizations implement projects for monitoring and improving the situation in relation to the use of public assets in electoral years. AIS is implementing a project consisting of monitoring abuse of public assets by state-owned companies during electoral periods. As a result of this project, two databases were presented. One of them consists of comprehensive historical records and information for each tender procedure of state-owned companies over the two last years, including the electoral year. The other database provides the public with information and knowledge about the management and performance of state-owned companies from the time they were established up to the present. The database is accessible on the Open Corporates Albania portal, under the State-Owned. Companies section. The participating journalists in this event represented various traditional media and online media such as Top Channel; Ora News; BIRN; ShqiptarjaCom; Shekulli; News 24; Opinion; Citizens Channel; Centre for Quality Journalism; ExitAl, etc.
The experts at this round table were knowledgeable about both legislation and practices regarding the performance of the public sector and its monitoring, and mainly those of state-owned companies in Albania and in the region. The purpose of the round table was not only to present the monitoring findings, but also to enhance the capacity of journalists in producing quality reports on the use of public assets in electoral years.
A round table was heldon 11.06.2019, with representatives from the media, civil society, and institutions. The purpose of this round table was:
to present the volume and dynamics of the institution’s work over the last 15 months;
analyze the context in which the institution was established;
assess the impact of the Agency on the efficiency and quality of Procurements and Contracts,
compare it with other models, and identify the need for interventions and further improvement
Moderators in the round table were experts in the legislation and institutional practices of procurement and contracting. They were: Muharrem Çakaj and Elton Lula, expert in procurement and appeals, former member of the Public Procurement Commission.
In addition to journalists and civil society representatives, participants included also representatives from the Ministry of Finances and the High State Audit.
The well-structured database of procurements made by the Public Procurement Agency by their volume and characteristics was presented at the round table. Thus:
During this period of 15 months, the system has announced the signing of 293 contracts, which are worth a fund limit of 6 347 790 714 Albanian lekëhttp://openprocurement.al/sq/agency/list (no more than 20 contracts per month).
These 293 contracts include 12 contract by a value of more than 100 million Albanian lekë each http://openprocurement.al/sq/agency/list/limit_fond/100%20infinit?
The highest-value tender is the one for purchasing Uniforms for the State Police and complementary accessories, reaching the fund limit of limit 908 973 900 Albanian lekë, announced on August 10th, 2018. This tender is cancelled, because none of the submitted bids met the tender criteria. http://openprocurement.al/sq/agency/view/id/30
The total number of cancelled tenders is 37, including 3 of a fund limit exceeding 100 million Albanian lekë. Two of those tender procedures were cancelled after a winner was announced http://openprocurement.al/sq/agency/list/status_id/4?
23 tenders were conducted with one competitor only http://openprocurement.al/sq/agency/list/bidder_no/1?
So far, the Central Purchasing Agency conducts tenders for 81 state institutions, including the Director of State Police, Customs, Prisons, Health Institutions, etc.
The RedFlag instrument has automatically marked so far 65 tenders by red flags, including 8 that exceed the value of 100 million Albanian lekë each (from 12 contracts in total) http://openprocurement.al/sq/agency/redflag and 33 of 5 up to 100 million Albanian lekë each.
Upon conclusion, the round table participants identified the need for better regulating the process of selection of the Agency employees and their status; the needs for completing the secondary legislation needed for the institution, as well as the need for increasing the number of Government institutions delegating their procurement powers to the Agency. One of the most voiced needs was the one for improving and strengthening the role of watchdog stakeholders in monitoring public contracting.
The Central Purchasing Agency is a state institution established in 2018 in order to concentrate the purchasing of goods and services for ministries and their subordinate institutions. The Albanian Government created this institution to increase efficiency and to better counter corruption in the use of public money for actual expenses. AIS has established a monitoring and assessment instrument regarding risk of favoritism and clientelism in these tenders. From February 2018 until May 2019, the Agency has procured 293 contracts in total, including 65 that lacked competition. AIS finds delays with the publication of contract signing or lack of publication of documents related with the monitoring of the execution of contracts in its database for transparent procurement. The Agency will continue to be monitored for its two first years of operation.
Tenders without competition, direct negotiations, or tenders with only one economic operator competing, involve a high risk of irregularities and misuse of public contracts and funds. Through its Transparent Procurement Program, AIS has found that 18% of the total number of tenders carried out by municipalities involve at least one risk in this process. The assessment is made using RedFlag algorithm as an anti-corruption instrument. Municipalities and their subordinate institutions announced calls for tenders from January 1st to December 31st 2018 for 5642 contracts that were worth 21.9 billion Albanian lekë. The Redflag assessment system, on the other hand, marked 997 contracts by red flags for this period, i.e. 18% of the total. The Database for Municipality Transparent Procurement offers opportunities to monitor and assess every tender conducted by Municipalities for their first term in office, i.e. 2015-2019.
The kursori.org Platform was presented in the framework of May the 9th, Europe Day in TiranaThis instrument in the Albanian language is developed as part of a project implemented by ODK and AIS on Open ICT Education for Youth Employability. The project offers free vocational training courses on Information Technology to “Kolin Gjoka” Vocational School in Lezha, “At Shtjefën Gjecovi” High School in Laç, “At Shtjefën Kurti” High School in Gorre, “Arif Halil Sula” High School in Mamurras, Miloti High School and two Universities “Ukshin Hoti” in Prizren, and “Haxhi Zeka” in Peja. ICT skills represent very good opportunities for employment in the European market without having to immigrate. The project is supported by the EU Delegation as a cross-border IPA Project for Albania-Kosovo. The Head of the EU Delegation in Albania, Ambassador Soreca, joint the promotion of the kursori.org and its activities benefitting youth vocational and economic development.
On November 1st and 2nd, 2018, AIS with the support of Lëviz Albania, held DataThon Albania in Voskopoja. DataThon is a marathon event, where journalists and activists were invited to work together to investigate, visualize, and analyze facts based on data collection and usage. This year’s edition theme was “How does my municipality spend my tax money?”
The DataThon was held for two days, 1st dhe 2nd of November. The journalists were divided into groups to find, analyze, visualize, and explain through simple facts, the process of budgeting, procurement, and other processes related with how municipalities spend the public money.
Journalists were asked to come up with an idea, work in their groups, visualizing and explaining processes related to Municipality spending and budgeting. The suggestion was to use the data available in databases like Open Procurement Albania; Open Corporates Albania; Spending Data Albania; portal for Local Finances , etc. Participants were selected through online applications on AIS website.
During the two working days, seven groups of journalists were created, of which five managed to successfully finalize a specific analysis and presentation. The event aimed at familiarizing journalists with the open data; introducing available instruments; promoting the culture of co-operation and exchange of experience and creativity. Awards were given to the best teams selected by participants’ vote.
Some of the presentations were also published on the Local Portal platform.
Some of the topics suggested by the participants included:
- How much does a municipality spend on services? Are there enough investments in green parks, roads, and infrastructure?
- Which are the municipalities that have not received any projects from the Regional Development Fund? What are the projects this development fund has funded and have they had the right impact?
- Municipality Performance in tax collection? What is the revenue tax per capita? What about the expenditure per capita?
- Investigate one of the RedFlag tenders! What is there behind a procedure lacking competition beyond the marks made by the system?
- Business companies awarded tenders through direct negotiation and without any competition only?
- Business companies awarded more than 30% of the value of the tenders for a certain municipality?
- Contractors involved in conflict of interest????
- Business companies providing it all, i.e. goods, services, and investments. Can they really do it all, or are they simply the favorite ones in procurement???
- Participatory budgeting? Demand for infrastructure, but money spent on services?! Unfair allocation of budget.
- How does my Mayor get rich? Are there mayors benefitting directly or indirectly from the Municipality investments???
- Any other topics you would like to propose.
- Youth in Kurbin and Lezhe benefit from cross-border IPA projects for Albania –Kosovo.
- Vocational Training on IT, Kurbin ad Lezha get support from EU programmes
- Employment without immigration, ICT a potential sector for online jobs
Open Data Kosova and AIS donated 18 computers to five schools in Kurbin and Lezha this week. These computers were made available to the schools as part of the Open ICT Education for Youth Project, a cross-border project funded by EU IPA funds. the beneficiaries in Albania include the vocational public secondary school “Kolin Gjoka” and four public secondary schools in the territory of the municipality of Kurbin, i.e. Laci, Gorre, Milot, and Mamurras schools. Representatives from the management of the education office of Kurbin and the vocational schools of “Kolin Gjoka” in Lezha attended the donation ceremony. The project representatives handing over the donation were Dafina Olluri as the representative of ODK, and Besyana Hysa, representative of AIS.
The project aims at increasing youth vocational skills in Albania and Kosovo in the ICT sector. ODK and AIS have created a platform in the Albanian language, called Kursori. The platform offers free online courses and training for local young people .
The technology sector is the biggest employer in the EU and the region. Employment in this sector involves decent salaries and jobs can be done online, with the young people having no need to immigrate. IT knowledge and skills guarantee safe and decent employment. ICT skills are also necessary for professionals in sectors like tourism, services, trade, and industry. The project in Albania focused in Lezha and Kurbin, given the concentration of population in this area, the need for better use of resources, and the human and natural potential that the area offers. Kurbin and Lezha are two municipalities that, thanks to their geographic position and potential for tourism, offer convincing opportunities for co-operation and exchange with Kosovo. The project aims at enabling 500 young people from these five schools to complete at least one of the online training programmes on the Kursori platform. This empowers them in the labour market. The project shall be completed by March 2020. The students of the beneficiary schools shall be assisted during online training even by technical instructors from the Project. The platform is open to everyone. In addition to training, the young students will also be able to benefit from joint events and exchanges with the computer science students from “Ukshin Hoti” University, and students from the Business Faculty of “Haxhi Zeka” University in Peja.
During January, AIS publicly opposed two draft laws proposed by the Albanian Government, as part of the Anti-Defamation legal package. The amendments proposed in the Law of Audio-Visual Media and Law for Electronic Communication, foresee that the enclosure and total censorship of portals registered in the Albanian and foreign virtual space can be ordered by non-court administrative institutions. AIS has prepared a report with its objections and proposals for the anti-defamation legal package. It has also participated in several round tables organised by the Government and non-governmental institutions and joined other organisations’ standing against this package, to defend the freedom of expression and human rights.
The Albanian Supreme Audit Institution (ALSAI) already disposes an innovative instrument, useful and transparent to highlight and present in a well-structured way the institution’s impact in the media and public. The data mining software solutions are considered an ICT innovation. Only in the last decade, these solutions have been applied initially by businesses, while nowdays from the Public Sector as well. ALSAI is the first Albanian institution that applies this software solution to detect, structure and catalogue media articles and technical publications related to the institutions’ results and impact. This instrument has been developed by AIS in the framework of “Transparency in Health Engagement” USAID Project. The data mining tool has been finalised in November 2018 as an instrument useful to transparency and anti-corruption.
Albanian Institute of Science
Nr 13 /25, Kati 3