Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former minister of finance, says for sustainable development goals to be achieved, governments all over the world must commit to transparent public procurement.
Disclosing her manifesto against corruption for the London anti-corruption summit, the Gavi chair-elect said 57 percent of all bribes are for securing public contracts.
Globally, governments purchase goods and services from the private sector at a rate of around US$9.5 trillion a year. These goods and services are central to governments being able to deliver on their core obligations to citizens: to build schools, health clinics, roads and bridges; to deliver critical social services such as access to clean water; to have the technology to open up government to citizens; to provide access to energy for citizens and business. It is also one of the most significant areas of corruption-risk.
Enforcement data from the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention shows that 57% of bribes were paid in order to secure public contracts. This process can rob citizens of their national resources, but also has led to more disastrous consequences: collapsing schools, fake medicine and medical equipment that killed patients.
Preventing corruption in public procurement is central to achieving the sustainable development goals, and there is a promising way to do so: open contracting.
Governments at the London Summit should commit to making public procurement open by default. This would mean encouraging full public disclosure of information across the entire process of government deal-making; from planning, to tender, to award, to the contract itself, through implementation to project closure. Governments should share this information as open data, by using the Open Contracting Data Standard, and open up the process to ensure business and civic engagement at appropriate points along the public procurement cycle. This will encourage fairness and help the public monitor the use of their funds.
Countries, provinces and cities have started to try open contracting and the results speak for themselves: better services, at lower costs, delivered more efficiently, with more competitive markets, and greater access for smaller and medium enterprises.
Governments can show not only their strong position against corruption, but also their real commitment to achieving the sustainable development goals by committing to making public procurement open by default at the London Summit.