Open contracting in Paraguay

The first of Paraguay’s sweeping reforms were introduced in 2003 to root out rampant corruption. Procurement, which had been unregulated until then, was seen as an easy route to enrichment for the ruling party, whose members were known to have ties to the country’s former dictator, Alfredo Stroessner. Patronage in civil service was endemic too — research suggests that meritocratic hiring was non-existent in Paraguay’s public institutions before 2003; under President Nicanor Duarte, meritocratic hiring was practised in around 2% of civil service appointments. That figure rose to 26% under his successor, Fernando Lugo. A new law, passed in 2003, modernized public procurement with the introduction of a transparent system for conducting tenders in public institutions and the creation of the Dirección Nacional de Contrataciones Públicas (DNCP) as an oversight body to monitor procurement processes and publish information about all contracts online.

I'm glad they talked with my good friend Juan Pane, the engine behind a good deal of the solutions deployed in Paraguay. I was very impressed by the quality of the work done in Paraguay at a workshop last year in Buenos Aires. Whereas some have talked the talk of open contracting, Paraguay has walked the proverbial walk. 

One reference to some interesting data points:

Over the past two years, several of the DNCP’s online tools were launched (like the open contracting portal) or redesigned (like the public procurement portal). In that time, there’s been a notable increase in savings on procurement costs (1.4% from 2015 to 2016, which, given the size of the procurement budget, is a significant sum). Adjustments and amendments to contracting processes have dropped, from 19% of all contracts in 2013 to just 3% in 2016. Visits to the public procurement portal website have risen by 32% from 2.5 million in 2015 to 3.4 million in 2016.

Correlation is not causation, but I find it amazing that contract amendments have dropped so much. Food for thought for European procurement agencies.