Integrating the Red Flags algorithm into the risk evaluation process of the Albanian Supreme Audit Institution

The integration of a Red Flags algorithm into Albanian Supreme Audit Institution’s (ASAI’s) risk evaluation process is one of the pillars of the “Transparency in Health Engagement” project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by University Research Company, LLC (URC).

Following several meetings with ASAI staff, in order to include in the Red Flags tool all the necessary indicators that could be of service to the auditor’s work, finally this tool is online. The Red Flags algorithm is incorporated in the well-structured database containing all tender procedures in the healthcare institutions starting from January 1st 2016.

RedFlag is a methodology for quality assessment and scanning of procurement procedures. It automatically selects and marks, through algorithms, some procedures that present indexes of potential risk for illegal, unethical behaviors, higher risk of favoritism, lack of competition and potential risk for unequal competition.

The database and the RedFlags algorithm empower several civilian groups such as:

• taxpayers, which understand how their money are being spent

• patients, which evaluate and respond to contracts related to the quality of service and infrastructure in healthcare

• journalists, who prepare fact-based reports

• other actors, part of the programs for transparency and monitoring/watchdog

The RedFlag instrument is incorporated with the intent to assist public audit institutions to obtain real-time indications on tenders and contracts with higher misuse probability, clientelism or corruption.

Albanian Development Fund Procurement on an Online Database since January 2015 by Open Contracting standards

The Albanian Development Fund (ADF) is one of the most important public institutions. Its projects are covered by the State Budget and credits from important international institutions. The monitoring of ADF’s procurement of public works is particularly important given the high value and impact they are expected to have on the public sector. AIS has developed a database containing a passaport for each procurement in accordance with the OpenContracting standard. Anyone may search for data concerning tenders, fund limits, winning offers, winning operators, disqualified operators, and contract terms and deadlines. The data may be filtered enabling an analysis by the location of investments, nationality of contractors, type of tender procedure, type of project, and level of competitiveness. The data will be updated on daily basis, enabling taxpayers to monitor contracts signed for public money and goods.

Mayors’ Asset Declaration, Economic Interests and Wealth

Which are the economic interests of Mayors? Asset Declaration is a process that enables the control of integrity, interests, and wealth of high-level officials. Mayors in our country, as high-level elected officials, are obliged to declare their assets to the High Inspectorate of Declaration and Audit of Assets and Conflict of Interest. Asset declarations, however, are not published on the website of the Inspectorate or on any municipalities’ websites. Pursuant to the right of information, AIS created asset declarations made by mayors over the years. Every citizen may search online for the assets and economic interests of their mayors or those of their family members. Other analysis and economic interests of mayors are available under Open Data Albania.

Open Corporates Albania – Monitor Municipalities’ Clients

Monitor Municipalities’ Clients – One of AIS projects on Municipality Transparency. The main output of the project is the Open Corporates Albania database. This database contains economic data concerning business companies that have won tenders and contracts with the municipalities. The database introduces the Municipality’s Private Contractors, identifies their owners and administrators, and describes their economic performance and activity. After winning a tender with the municipalities, these economic entities provide public services or works. The public may thus learn who stands behind the companies contracted by the Local Government Units. For each business company, a passport using OpenCorporate standards is created for each tender conducted by all the municipalities from 2015 and ongoing.

How are taxpayers’ money being spent? Payments by municipalities through Treasury Transactions

Where does taxpayers’ money go? For each municipality or state budget institution in the country, the well-structured database for Treasury Payments enables full transparency for every payment made to clients by the State Treasury. The system contains authentic data obtained from the Ministry of Finances, structuring them in a way that enables search by date of payment, category of expenses, beneficiary, invoice number and description, category, and value. For every municipality, taxpayers and citizens may monitor payments made by the state budget, searching by the paying authority, name of municipality, or budget institution. The data cover a period starting from 2012.

Tenders and Contracts – Learn about projects and public works for each municipality

From July 2015, since the creation of the 61 municipalities emerging from the latest territorial and administrative division, until July 2018, municipalities have signed more than 18 thousand contracts buying goods, services, public works, and organizing auctions or Public Private Partnerships (concesionary contracts). A passport is created in the Open Procurement Albania database for each tender accessible to the public in the OpenContracting format. In addition, the database provides well-structured information enabling search for procurement by the procuring authority, winning competitor, type of contract, date of tender announcement, etc. The system includes also an algorithm, where each contract is automatically scanned on the basis of some criteria, and marked by RedFlag when applicable. The redflag algorithm has led to 10% of the total number of municipalities’ tenders marked by red flags, identifying thus the risk of lack of competition, inequality, favoritism, and economic abuse. The database is used in dozens of investigative articles in the Albanian media.

AIS increases transparency over municipalities on the eve of local government elections, monitoring 4 years of performance

The organization AIS is a promoter of transparency and open data. Databases created and maintained by AIS enable monitoring of public expenditures, public procurement, management of the public assets and distribution of budgets by local government units. July 2018 marks exactly three years from the emersion of the new municipalities resulted from the latest administrative-territorial division. the latest administrative-territorial division. This year could be well considered the electoral year, carrying the 2019 local elections. AIS invites citizens, activists, and journalists to monitor the work and integrity of municipality leaders by using also transparent databases available in the open format opendata, which are easy to find, use, and reuse.

Monitor Contracting through Data, Health Sector Albania

Monitor Contracting through data in the Health Sector, shining light on issues related with the distribution of money by contractors. 13 thousand contracts awarded by institutions of public health in the country (2016 – 2018) to 586 contractors , business companies. Thus, 61% of these contracts were finalized through tender procedures involving one single competitor, while 25% through closed tender procedures with negotiation . Transparent Procurement in the Health Sector not only opens up data about contracting in this sector, but it also provides opportunities for analyzing and visualizing information. This database will soon involve the application of a red flag algorithm identifying tenders posed to a risk of inequality, lack of competition, or situations of clientelism.

Database of Concessionary Companies – Information on their Contracts and Performance

A concessionary register by the civil society versus the Government register. It is 222 business companies involved in concessionary agreements or PPPs with the Albanian Government, which anyone may monitor on our database OpenCorporates.al, under the ‘Concessionary Companies’ category . It contains information for each company regarding their structure, ownership, history of ownership transfer, annual performance in terms of turnover and profit, concessionary fees, address and licenses for the activities they carry out, etc. This range of data for each passport is published in JSON and CSV as open data formats. The information passports are accompanied by links to documents like contracts, amendments to contracts, special laws, procurement acts, and other documents relevant to concessions. The Albanian Government is involved in a high number of public-private partnerships in the recent years in sectors like energy, health care, education infrastructure, road infrastructure, telecommunication, services, etc.

Treasury Transactions. Weekly Payments made by State Budget Institutions

Everything about taxpayers’ money. Treasury Transaction is a well-structured database, which anyone may access for information about money paid by the state institutions from 2012 up to the present. The database contains data about all payments made by more than 1600 state budget institutions in the country. Using search filters, users may find information about payments by their date, amount, paying institution, beneficiaries, type of expenditure, number of invoice, etc. The data are officially provided by the State Treasury salary system, but AIS brings them in an open data and well-structured format, which is integrated into an application developed by AIS for this purpose. This database helps the public and taxpayers answer the question “Where does my Money go!?” It also enables journalists to report on certain payments and Government clients . The database is an instrument that makes it easier also for business operators to access and use the information made available.