Watch Dog Process avoids abusive and clientelist tenders

The Albanian Institute of Science (AIS), an organization that promotes open data in Albania, has the pleasure of sharing with you a positive experience of the role of the civil society and media in the watch dog process of civic monitoring and control over how public property is used in the country.

On 19 April, Open Procurement Albania portal provided comprehensive information to the public and journalists about a procurement process of the Municipality of Tropoja, whereby the Municipality Rented a Tourist Space, known as:

Tourism Development Centre of Valbona

Renting, through competition, of the Tourism Development Centre of Valbona, an area of 4180 m² (as in the layout), including a building covering an area of 461 m2 and a functional space (outside the building) of 3719 m2. The building is rented so that it can be used to support economic activities that encourage investments, employment, and tourism. The minimum rent from which competition starts is 60,240 (sixty thousand and two hundred and forty) lekë/month. The term of rent shall be 5 (five) years.

The time available for potential competitors was very short. The tender was announced on 18 April, and the deadline for applications was 20 April, which significantly leads to suspicions of an intentional clientelist procurement process. In addition, the minimum rent for such a building and area in one of the most visited tourist sites seems to be very abusive. Information about this procurement process spread quickly through social media, comments were made by hundreds of citizens, and it became target of various media articles, mainly by online media. Some journalists made further investigations, finding out that, in addition to the natural resources the Centre represents; it (the building) had just been completed with the investments made by the Albanian Development Fund. Following such civic pressure on social networks and media, the Municipality of Tropoja decided to cancel the procurement process because of the short time available for application. The cancelation was published on the latest bulletin of the Public Procurement Agency (25 April).

AIS, through its monitoring process and publication of information in an Open format (easy to be found and searched), draws your attention to the extreme lack of transparency over procurement processes of our local government units in renting public buildings.  These procurement processes are not announced electronically. They are only made in the PDF version of the Bulletin, leave always very little time for applications, and are not accompanied by a final announcement about the total number of participants, values of winning contracts, and the name of the winning economic operators.

At the moment, Open Procurement Albania portal provides data about eight procurement processes for renting territories and properties owned by Municipalities, which have taken place from July 2015. There, you may also find information about 1547 public procurement procedures of the 61 local government units emerging after the recent territorial-administrative division.

This portal is part of the activities of OpenLGU Program. We welcome suggestions and invitations for cooperation!