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Open Data, Access and Transparency over sectors exposed to Risks of Corruption

AIS is currently implementing the project: Open Data, Access, and Transparency over sectors exposed to Risk of Corruption. The project is financially supported by SIDA – Sweden International Development Cooperation Agency.

Implementation period: March 2021 – February 2024

There are two main components of this project: Increased Transparency on taxpayers’ money (public money) under the slogan “Where Does my Money Go” and Youth Empowerment against Corruption – Citizen Education, Improving Fact-Checking Models.

The purpose of this project, entitled Open Data, Access, and Transparency over sectors exposed to Risk of Corruption, is to:

  • promote transparency and inform the public, through Open Data (disclosure of data concerning public spending, procurement, contracting, officials’ declaration of assets, as well as information regarding the healthcare sector, State-Owned Companies, and other sectors with high-risk of corruption);

  • develop monitoring and risk assessment instruments in anti-corruption;

  • empower youth and increase journalists’ and young activists’ capacities

The beneficiaries of this project shall be watchdog media or journalists; activists; young professionals directly engaged in accountability and good governance; taxpayers, voters, and citizens profiting off services from the public sector, etc. Overall, the beneficiary line-up includes stakeholders from both, the demand and supply sides of transparency, good governance, and anti-corruption.

Open Contracting Albania LGUs and Red Flag Index 2020-2021 , April 2022 – April 2024

Open Contracting Albania LGUs and Red Flag Index 2020-2021  is an ongoing project, implemented by AIS with the financial of NED (National Endowment for Democracy), with a targeted run until April 2024. 

The project entails the following main activities:

  • Developing an index assessing Albania’s 61 municipalities’ procurement process, rating each municipality for their general risk for non-competitive tenders, unduly short bidding periods, disqualification of legitimate tenders, and other non-transparent or preferential components;

  • Monitor the implementation of the Post-Earthquake Reconstruction Program as outlined, producing a progress report every six months;

  • Update the Open Contracting database with an additional 20,000 public contracting passports and relevant documentation, for the duration of the tender;

  • Use “red flag” algorithm to designate risky and irregular tenders, as an accountability mechanism;

  • Host four journalist and civil society roundtables, two per year, on how to make use of the database and the “red flag” Index;

  • Host at least 28 info-sessions with journalists, one every four weeks, to increase knowledge of the procurement processes amongst local journalists and civil society;

  • Publish at least four newsletters, two per year, detailing major cases and incidents in the procurement processes, for the public, civil society, and media use.

Through the Open Contracting Albania LGUs and Red Flag Index 2020-2021 two-year project, its activities, and results, the applicant organization has managed to instill a transparency and accountability culture in the country, with special focus on Public Procurement and Contracting.

The project marked the following accomplishments:

  • consolidated the anti-corruption instruments (ICT tools);

  • strengthened public pressure on government authorities for a fairer distribution of contracts;

  • consolidated databases that enable information, transparency, and accountability;

  • empowered fact-based journalism;

  • assisted analytical processes guaranteeing quality and integrity in Public Contracting;

  • Advocated for a Law-abiding Contracting, in line with the EU Public Procurement Standards.

The outcomes, the projects’ conclusions, have stimulated and offered a better quality to the public and institutional debate on corruption in tendering. Often the information provided by the database has directly opposed the arguments of the Albanian Government justifying defects in the Public Contracting process.

Facts and assessments on Public Tendering have prompted dozens of stories of quality journalism.

The tendering database and Red Flag algorithm, at the moment, are key decisive instruments in controlling and evaluating the Local Government’s performance.

The Model has provided data and information, producing various documents attesting to the quality of Public Procurement.

Using the findings and experience gained, the organization has also participated in consultations at the national level for drafting the New Law on Public Procurement and the Sectorial Strategy.

Important bodies have recommended that the Albanian Authorities consider the database and the risk assessment algorithm created, the Open Contracting Albania LGU and Red Flag Index 2020-2021 Project, as models to be applied by the State Institutions, responsible for publication and risk assessment in public contracting[1].

The implemented project has consolidated the Applicant Organization’s position as a leading organization among civil actors working on information, transparency, accountability, and public pressure for Regular Tenders and Contracting.

In addition to having disclosed data and documents on Public Procurement at the Municipality level, the Organization has successfully applied the red flag algorithm for marking tenders, showing signs of competition irregularities. All tenders that have been announced and processed by 61 Municipalities and subordinate institutions have been published in real-time, following the Open Contracting standards. The Passport created for each tender includes documents, whose publication is mandatory for purposes of transparency. Finally, all stages of the public competition are updated and scanned, using the red flag algorithm. The same process was conducted for tenders carried out as part of the State Reconstruction Program. Our well-structured database is favored by the audience, marking a satisfactory number of clicks and visits.

Transparency and Litigation The organization has carefully monitored the process of implementation of the Post-Earthquake Reconstruction Program, designed two years ago by the Albanian Government, and is still in the early stages of its implementation. The program was designed in an emergency situation and was characterized by difficulties and problems. During the monitoring process, in addition to delays, the Applicant also found and referred to shortcomings derived from the new legislation applied in selecting the Programs’ contracted builders, by areas and types of intervention. Noting the application of a special law, in violation to the Economic Freedom and Competitiveness right, the organization decided to draft a Lawsuit addressed to the Constitutional Court, calling for the repeal of said Special Law, demanding that Contractors be selected in keeping with the existing Law on Procurement standards, which also provides for situations requiring rapid interventions by guaranteeing competition and efficiency in contracting.

 

[1] This proposal comes from Open Contracting Partnership and from Heritie School of Governance  http://ais.al/new/en/corruption-risk-in-albania-public-procurement-2017-2019-a-document-prepared-by-heritie-school-of-governance-and-the-albanian-institute-of-sciences-ais-may-2021/

 

C1-EU-NPA – IMPROVED POLICY DEBATE AND ACCOUNTABILITY TO DELIVERING ON FUNDAMENTALS FIRST, THROUGH THE ESTABLISHMENT OF CLUSTER ONE EU NEGOTIATIONS PLATFORM – ALBANIA (C1-EU-NPA)

The general objective of the project is to support Albania’s EU accession negotiations related to Cluster One chapters (fundamentals first) through improved policy debate and strengthened accountability and CSO’s role in the process.

Project duration: 1 June 2021-31 December 2023.

The project is being implemented by four Albanian Organizations: CSDG, ISP. AIS and AHC

Supported by: The Netherlands Embassy in Albania.

The specific objectives of the project are to:

1) Support the public institutions engaged in the Cluster One EU negotiations through the provision of policy expertise and advocacy.

2) Strengthen accountability and responsiveness of the public institutions engaged in the EU negotiation process to deliver on the fundamentals first and the overall pace of negotiations.

3) Strengthen knowledge and involvement of the professional community, relevant stakeholders, and the public on processes and outcomes pertaining to Cluster One EU negotiations.

4) Strengthen the overall role and visibility of Albanian CSOs in EU negotiation process.

The results intended to be delivered through the foreseen activities are as follows:

1) AHC will produce 7 out of 28 publications (policy papers, policy briefs, discussion papers, position papers) that will cover relevant topics related to the negotiation process included in Cluster One and developments in the EU integration agenda of the country.

2) 6 joint meetings between C1-EU-NPA partner organizations and the government institutions involved in the negotiation process, including the Parliament.

3) 6 public discussion tables with the aim of discussing topics relevant to the Cluster One negotiation process that will be identified through the research and coordination and networking.

4) 10 press conferences to communicate with the media on issues related to the Cluster One negotiation process will be held.

5) 3 conferences (1 each year) with the participation of the relevant stakeholders

6) Establishment of a dedicated web platform as a communication channel for the dissemination with the public of project activities and results.

7) Regular dissemination through social media of information on project activities and results or/and issues of concern.

AIS starts the Improvement of Integrity of the Public Contractors Project, supported by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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.

Monitoring abuse of public funds by state-owned companies during electoral periods

AIS has started working on the implementation of the “Monitoring Abuse of Public Funds by State-Owned Companies during Electoral Periods” project. The project consists of election oversight on monitoring abuse of state resources, and is supported by the USAID program, “Accelerated Civic Development and Cooperation”. The goal of this project is to educate and empower citizens through information and transparency about state-owned companies’ potential abuse (misuse) of their money, assets and human resources during 2019 Elections and It will contribute to reducing electoral corruptions, ensure accountability of the public companies and their good governance.

 

Transparency, Monitoring and Evaluation of Procurement of Central Purchasing Agency

The project entitled “Transparency, Monitoring and Evaluation of Procurement of Central Purchasing Agency” aims at disclosing data regarding procurement and contracts signed by this newly established agency. For that, a data catalogue shall be developed containing data concerning all the tenders carried out by the Central Purchasing Agency (CPA) for its two first years. Transparency, Monitoring, and Evaluation shall be done using Open Contracting Standards, which are not currently used by the Government Procurement System in Albania. A well-structured database to evaluate performance and identify risk of corruption shall be created, containing data that are easy to find and use regarding CPA tenders for 2018-2019. Every procurement shall be automatically scanned for risk of corruption, and identified by RedFlag markers.

Evaluation: Activities and Objectives are relevant to the anti-corruption strategy. The project delivers results for two years of CPA public tender, evaluates its performance, quality of tenders, measures integrity and efficiency indicators. This project strengthens the culture of monitoring and evaluation, and identifies potential risk of problems with the quality of competition.

Beneficiaries: citizens, media, actors engaged in anti-corruption, non-public sector (accountability) and the public sector (good governance). 

Project Justification:

Council of Ministers Decision No.81/2018 led to the establishment of a Central Purchasing Agency in line with the objectives of the Anti-Corruption Strategy, responsible for procurement on behalf of ministries, agencies, and executive authorities. There is a need to monitor and evaluate its performance for the first months, especially before and during the 2019 elections, with a view to identifying potential risk of public contracts being used for electoral influence.

Open ICT Education for youth employability

Open Data Kosova (ODK) and the Albanian Institute of Science (AIS) are implementing the Open ICT Education for Youth Employability Project. This is an EU-funded IPA cross-border project. Its beneficiaries include Universities and secondary schools in the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Albania. The objective of the project is to foster youth employability providing an open access to critical ICT knowledge and skills, and strengthening cross-border cooperation between the educational institutions. The first online ICT platform is created through this project in the Albanian language.

Transparency in Health Engagement Project

Transparency in Health Engagement Project is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the terms of its Contract.

Agreement Number: Contract Number: AID-182-C-17-00001 (USAID/Transparency in Health Engagement Project held by prime recipient University Research Company, LLC (URC) and by sub-recipient Albania Institute of Science (AIS), Tetra Tech, and Boston University.

The Transparency in Health Engagement project is funded and managed by the USAID/Albania.

Notifications and publications related with the engagement in this Project :

 

Open Government against Corruption – Open Gov for Good Governance

The Project Open Government against Corruption – Open Gov for Good Governance aims at implementing an activity on citizens’ participation in the process of ensuring information, control, and monitoring of local government spending and budgets. Another objective of the project is also to enhance the capacity of journalists, municipality councillors, and officials in using ICT instruments for transparency and accountability. The project is being implemented in three municipalities of Elbasan region, Cërrik, Belsh Përrenjas Availability of information instruments and enhanced capacities of the main stakeholders contributes to increasing citizens’ participation in decision-making, and makes institutions more accountable.

Visualizations and linked data on spending and budgets of each of the three municipalities shall be created and be made accessible through applications in the Open Government against Corruption Project. Thus, the intention is to create an application called “How does the Municipality spend my money”, of one stop integrate data source categories for expenditures on public works; expenditures on public services; expenditures on the municipality staff; clients contracted by the municipality; incomes from the use of Municipality-owned territories. The data include details like time, descriptions, beneficiaries, and descriptions of expenditures following the Open Data Principles.

The “Open Government against Corruption – Open Gov for Good Governance” project is supported by the “Anticorruption and Capacity Development” sub-grant fund within the EU-funded CIVILISC project, implemented by IDM in partnership with the RiskMonitor Foundation, Bulgaria

Monitor Municipality Clients in Public Contracts

Monitor private contractors in public contracts. This is the newest AIS project, which has just started. Its aim is to identify the people, being granted a public contract, names of shareholders and owners, their records of public contracts, characteristics of the relevant companies, and any potential conflicts of interest. The project is supported by LëvizAlbania Local Democracy in Action program financed by the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency. Databases of private contractors for public services, works, and investments are going to be published by March 2017.