Fwd: [open-government] Announcing a New Procurement Initiative by the Sunlight Foundation


Siento si ya lo habéis visto. Creo que es interesante para el tema de
contratos públicos.



---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Julia Keserű <jkeseru@sunlightfoundation.com>
Date: Mon, Mar 11, 2013 at 8:45 PM
Subject: [open-government] Announcing a New Procurement Initiative by the
Sunlight Foundation
To: open-government@lists.okfn.org
Cc: od-discuss@lists.okfn.org, odc-discuss@lists.okfn.org,

(Sorry for cross-posting.)


If anyone is aware of great tools and projects on procurements and
government contracts, please let us know!


Announcing a New Procurement
by Kaitlin Devine <http://sunlightfoundation.com/people/kdevine/>March 11,
2013, 12:19 p.m.

[image: government]
we're excited to announce an expansion of our work in the area of
government procurement. Sunlight has covered procurement before in the
broader context ofspending
, the poor state of contracting oversight
and the general inability to accurately identify
but since it affects many different aspects of our work, we want to address
it more holistically.

There are a few angles to pursue this from that are right up Sunlight's
alley and lots of good questions for us to dig into. Our natural
inclination is to look for ways that more transparency in the contracting
process could reduce corruption, improve government effectiveness, and
allow for more accountability to citizens. It's not just that our
procurement process is sometimes opaque. The constellation of systems that
exist across the government to solicit, manage, oversee, and publish
procurement data is so disparate and confusing that it can not only
alienate qualified small businesses and vendors from the process, but even
seasoned auditors can have trouble navigating it. Combine the inherent
complexity of the system with a shrinking acquisition workforce that
is struggling
to keep up with its training
<http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-117>and staffing
requirements <http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-232T>, and you have a
system that isn't working well for anyone.

This leads us to ask where transparency can be introduced to alleviate some
of these pressures. If the acquisition workforce that's responsible for
overseeing contractor performance is overwhelmed, doesn't it make sense to
expose more data around the bidding process so that we can help set them up
for success? Ideally, transparency alone would deter a lot of bad behavior
from occurring in the first place. But barring that, if bidders' names and
company information were public, a good deal of oversight could be done by
the public and competing bidders. Watchdogs could ask basic questions about
a bid: "Does this company usually work in the industry area it's bidding
on?"; "Were the losing bidders recently formed companies that were set up
to lose?" Setting aside potential corruption in the bidding process,
wouldn't it be nice if there were better public metrics regarding which
types of contracts get very few or single bids? Other companies can
identify these single-bid niche markets inside government procurement and
add more competition, which helps the whole process function better.

[image: contract]
a contract is awarded, it is difficult for the public to track its
performance. There have been one-off projects, like the IT Dashboard
archived pending new numbers) that show the public whether or not a
contract is on-budget and on-time. That project was successful, resulting
in the cancellation or scope reduction of several over-budget and over-time
projects that just weren't working. Unfortunately, this kind of information
is difficult if not impossible to discern from the data on USASpending.gov.
The full text of contracts is only available via the FOIA process, making
it very difficult for an outsider to ascertain whether or not contract
requirements are being met. This puts all the burden on the acquisition
workforce to maintain information about a contractor's performance.
According to areport by the IG
officers responsible for suspending contractors from doing business with
the government generally defer from taking this action until evidence comes
to light via indictments, criminal convictions, or civil judgments. In
reality, they could employ this process more often, as was the report's
recommendation. While a certain amount of responsibility must remain with
these officers, making more contract data public can help make it easier
for citizens to understand just what their government is acquiring.

These are just a handful of the questions that we're beginning to
investigate. In addition to exploring what the federal government could do
better, we'll also be writing about procurement systems at various levels
of government (including internationally) and how the process differs from
our own. There are some great tools out there that we're looking forward to
sharing with you, but we suspect their use here may be precluded by a lack
of data. As we delve into this we'll be writing about our work and
soliciting feedback from our audience -- starting with this post. Is there
something about the process you think we should address? Do you know of an
oversight or tracking tool we should be aware of? Let us know what you
think in the comments. We can't begin to tackle such a large and important
topic without the help of our broader community, so I hope you'll follow
along and participate in the discussion.

Júlia Keserű
International Program Coordinator

1818 N Street NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036

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Received on Thursday, 14 March 2013 11:38:56 UTC