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Open Data in Public Procurements

The project starts from the observed problems related to the functioning of the public procurement system in the Republic of Serbia and the importance of the functioning of the state apparatus, impact on overall economic life and meeting the needs of citizens. The project builds on Serbia's plans to fight corruption and EU integration.

In general, the aim of this project was to increase the openness of public procurement data and their usability in practice.

Pursuant to the Law on Public Procurement from 2012, as well as on the basis of previous laws regulating this area, it is envisaged to publish advertisements and other documents that are explicitly listed in the Law on the Public Procurement Portal, maintained by the Public Procurement Directorate.

Most of the data published on the Portal is in a form that does not provide the possibility of further use. As a result, the usefulness of these posts is reduced, and searches are limited to parameters that are predefined by the Portal settings. Another problem, which is related to the subject of this research, is the insufficient connection of the data that exist on the Public Procurement Portal with the data on public procurement that are in the possession of other authorities.

The opportunity to improve the situation existed during 2018, when the research was conducted on several axes. First, the Public Procurement Directorate is one of the state administration bodies that has voluntarily joined the work of the Open Data Group. Accordingly, the Public Procurement Directorate published certain data sets on the national open data portal.

The improvement of the Public Procurement Portal, ie the development of a new Portal is part of the action plan adopted by the Management within the Strategy for the Improvement of the Public Procurement System for 2018.

The third opportunity is reflected in the fact that in 2018 the procedure of revision of the Action Plan of the Republic of Serbia in negotiations with the European Union for Chapter 23 should have started. This revision could have resulted in devising new measures for opening and crossing data on public procurement data. in the context of controlling public procurement procedures, linking databases and better cooperation between institutions.

In addition, the opportunity to improve the openness of public procurement data arises from broader activities in this field carried out at the national level, primarily through the Open Government Partnership initiative, and the implementation and adoption of bylaws under the Law on Electronic Government, for which the deadline was October 14, 2014. The mentioned bylaws were supposed to regulate the functioning of the Open Data Portal and the publication of web presentations of government bodies. Both acts were in preparation during the implementation of this project.

It is clear that there is interest from citizens and journalists in public procurement research. Transparency Serbia, as an organization that has systematically monitored the field of public procurement since 2002, participates in numerous global and regional initiatives related to public procurement and public finances in general, which is active in designing and promoting anti-corruption mechanisms and using EU integration to improve the situation. in this area, as a co-founder of the coalition prEUgovor and coordinator of the National Convention for the EU, in connection with Chapter 5 (public procurement), undertook the following activities within the project:

Analysis of the current situation regarding the openness of data on public procurement, existing plans from strategic acts and institutions;
identification and analysis of foreign experiences regarding the opening of data on public procurement and selection of those that could be relevant for Serbia;
consultations with representatives of target groups regarding the possibilities to publish additional data in an open format even before the changes in the legal framework;
submission of proposals during the public debate on the new Law on Public Procurement;
drafting and submitting proposals for amendments to relevant planning acts of the Republic of Serbia that were current at the time of project implementation;
formulation of proposals - initiatives to the Ministry of Finance and the State Audit Institution and other bodies, in order to improve the situation in Serbia according to the parameters from the international survey Budget Openness Index;
analysis of open data and their crossing. As part of this activity, we tested whether there are statistically significant correlations between individual published data that could be the subject of further analysis in order to draw conclusions about the public procurement system.

The Open and Cross-Public Procurement project was implemented by Transparency - Serbia in the period from July to November 2018.

The project was supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) office in Belgrade. All views expressed belong to the TS and do not necessarily reflect the views of UNDP

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