The Open Corporates Albania website, which provides information of an economic nature, in the Albanian language, reaches a record number of clicks. Over 20 thousand unique users every month, i.e. 40% more than last year, Open Corporates Albania has resulted to be a favorable website for the information it provides for business companies contracted by public institutions. In January 2020, according to Google Analytics, the website reached a total of 32899 unique users and 1 million page views. Although 90% of the information is only available in the Albanian language, the website is also clicked in other countries as well. Thus, 78.4 % of the clicks come from Albania; 4.2% from neighboring Italy, third comes USA with 3.4% of the clicks, followed by Kosovo, Germany, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Greece, Turkey, and France. Currently, the website is being maintained and updated with data by AIS team, a non-governmental organization promoting Open Data in Albania
1 in 3 tenders without fair competition, open data encourage investigative journalism to denounce corruption with taxpayers’ money On January 7th, the TopStory investigative show on Top Channel denounced forms of fraud through public procurement tenders. Shocking facts were brought to the program for one in every three tenders without fair competition. 300 million euros of taxpayers’ money results to be lost every year, abused and misappropriated through tenders with clientelist elements. AIS, an organization promoting Open Data in Albania, contributed to this courageous TV investigation through data released: Specifically: Data about tenders and contracts with problems regarding competition published on the Open Procurement Albania portal; information about clientelist companies published in the Open Corporates Albania portal, and data on the payments from the State Budget published on Spending Data Albania . For the last four years, AIS has been publishing data and assessing the risk of irregularities in tenders, known as RedFlag procurement, identifying information and gaps for every tender held by municipalities ; Albanian Development Fund ; Albanian Road Authority ; Health Sector; Central Purchasing Agency; Public-Owned Agency;
The Albanian Government has signed eight contracts in 2019 for economic subjects that have obtained actual rights over state property against a symbolic price of 1 Euro. The Albania 1-Euro programme aims to grant potential employers (businesses) state property to use, with the purpose of increasing private investments and the number of employees. In 2019, six businesses and a non-profit organization have benefited from this programme. Only one of the contractors is a foreign investor. Properties granted for use in 2019, with a rental fee of only 1- Euro and for up to 60 years, are mainly industrial objects and military objects. In total, the Government has granted 537,503 square meters of total surface for 916 new jobs, without any contractual requirements that the employers in such contracts to be Albanian citizens. The investor, who has been granted the largest area, is the Albanian company Blu Imperial . More jobs in exchange for the Albania 1-Euro project are expected to be created by the Korean company Yura Co.Ltd, which will open a company for electric parts for cars. Its investment is estimated to be 6.5 million Euros and expected to create 516 jobs. Open Corporates Albania has prepared transparent passports for the business companies that have been granted rental contracts for only 1-Euro for state property.
Tenders and Contracts awarded by the Albanian Road Authority are now accessible by Open Contracting standards. Following tenders for municipalities, public-owned business companies, health, the Albanian Road Fund, and Central Purchasing Agency, the non-profit organization AIS is also ensuring transparency over tender stages and contracts awarded by this key contractor authority in the country. The Albanian Road Authority is the central planning institution for national road infrastructure contracts. The database and the algorithm for corruption risk show that 40 out of 100 tenders are marked by a redflag, indicating the potential for racial inequality. Open Contracting – The Albanian Road Authority is one of the activities of the “Improvement of the Integrity of Public Contractors” Project supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Ambassador of the Netherlands to Tirana, Mrs. Guusje Korthals Altes, was also present at the presentation of the database to a group of investigative journalists.
The “Open ICT Education for Youth Employability” Project, Grant Contract no. 2017/394-533 , implemented by ODK and AIS, scheduled to last from 15 January 2018 until 15 February 2020, targets beneficiaries/educational institutions from Kosovo and Albania. More specifically, high schools from Kurbin and Lezha Municipalities are among the targeted beneficiaries.
Following, you may find some information about the damages caused to the project beneficiary schools by the natural disaster, namely the earthquake of 26 November 2019 in this Memo HERE.
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.
Albanian Institute of Science
Nr 13 /25, Kati 3