The Transparency International, TI, has advocated for open contracting to combat corruption in the health sector and improve healthcare delivery in Nigeria.
A report by TI, made available to www.icirnigeria.org, revealed that the benefits of open contracting goes beyond combating corruption, but include achieving value for money, improving the business environment and promoting innovation in monitoring service delivery.
According to the report, open contracting is when governments make procurement information accessible so that businesses can compete fairly to win contracts and civil society can monitor the process to identify irregularities and investigate corruption.
The report which is titled “Making the Case for Open Contracting in Health Procurement,” published by the TI Pharmaceuticals and Health Programme used Nigeria, Ukraine and Honduras as case studies to argue that adopting Open Contracting Data Standard, OCDS, by governments would reduce corruption and improve healthcare delivery.
TI recalled that Nigeria pledged to introduce open contracting into its health sector at the UK Anti-Corruption Summit in May 2016, noting that active implementation of OCDS would make substantial impact on the health outcomes in Nigeria.
The report stressed that the participation of civil society, private sector and other stakeholders in the public procurement process would enhance transparency and accountability.
TI pointed out that civil monitoring helped to correct poor public policy in the construction of about 40 Primary Health Centres, PHCs, in Nigeria.
The report noted that a collaboration of a civil society organisation and the media discovered that only 36 per cent of expenditure in the construction of 40 PHCs actually led to operational facilities.
The report also noted that the awards of the contracts did not follow competitive bidding as specified by the Nigerian procurement law because 26 different companies were awarded the same amounts for the construction of the PHCs across different states in the country.
TI said the discovery of this questionable contracting has led Nigerian government to pledge to use open contacting in its procurement in the health sector.
The report said, “Open contracting offers a route for governments to move from the procurement status quo of corruption, waste, and inefficiency, to clean contacting in which fairness, integrity and efficiency are the norms.”
According to the report, government get big returns on small investments by opening up healthcare contacting data.
“The relatively simple tasks of consulting stakeholders, publishing information and then responding to the results, has helped governments save money, correct policy, enhance markets, detect corruption and ultimately improve healthcare outcomes,” the report said.
The report added that active participation of business, civil society and other stakeholders are an important element of open contracting success.