Implement Open Contracting and the Open Contracting Data Standard (NG0016)
Action Plan: Nigeria Action Plan 2019-2022
Action Plan Cycle: 2019
Lead Institution: Bureau of Public Procurement
Support Institution(s): BPP, Federal Ministry of Information, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Federal Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Budget Office of the Federation, Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offenses Related Commission (ICPC), NASS Committees on Procurement, OAuGF. Professional Entities, Alliances and Organizations One Campaign, Nigeria Private Sector Alliance (NIPSA), Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), Procurement Professionals Association of Nigeria, Pan-Atlantic University, Institute of Software Professionals of Nigeria, Association of Indigenous Construction Contractors of Nigeria, PTCIJ CSOs 1. Public Procurement Monitoring Working Group (PPMWG) 2. Public and Private Development Centre 3. Niger Delta Budget Monitoring Working Group 4. INTEGRITY 5. Reboot 6. National Council on Women 7. WRAPPA 8. CBI Nigeria 9. National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) 10. Media Rights Agenda 11. ILF 12. CSJ 13. Centre for Legal Research and Development (CLERD) 14. Transparency and Accountability and Totality (FollowTaxes)
Policy AreasAccess to Information, Anti-Corruption, Beneficial Ownership, Capacity Building, E-Government, Gender, Marginalized Communities, Open Contracting and Public Procurement, Open Data, Open Response & Open Recovery, Private Sector, Public Participation, Public Procurement
The Bureau of Public Procurement in line with the government commitment at the 2016 London Anti-corruption Summit deployed the first Nigerian Open Contracting Portal (NOCOPO). The open contracting portal seeks to address issues around opacity, corruption, resource wastage and improve the quality of services delivered to Nigerians through wider stakeholder participation in the procurement spectrum. This will ultimately improve transparency and accountability of fiscal governance, better infrastructure and service delivery and public trust in governance.
The second phase of the NAP will prioritize timely data publication and availability, quality and use of published data by different categories of stakeholders for optimal results. This commitment will ensure inclusion of relevant actors, such as Women and Youth groups, Private sector stakeholders and State-Based Organizations to access, use and report on the impacts of published data.
Despite the deployment of NOCOPO, stakeholders are still faced with the challenge of accessing public finance data of value to them. In 2018, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation issued a circular (Ref. No PROC/BPP/045/I/89 dated 10th July 2018) to over 500 MDAs to publish their contractual information on NOCOPO. However, there are still high levels of non-compliance to the directive and unavailability of data across stages in the procurement cycle.
More so, open contracting discourse in Nigeria is yet to include key actors relevant in its sustainability and achievement of greater impacts. For example, private sector audiences are relevant in ensuring continuous data availability in making better and informed business decisions, while data on health-related projects are of greater interest to Women groups.
Specific OGP Issue:
Effective Implementation of open contracting to improve public service integrity and increasing the transparency of the procurement processes; inclusion of actors relevant in the discourse and use of published information for improved governance and service delivery.
Rationale for the commitment:
Open Contracting can offer the following values through the use of innovative technology to increase access to procurement information:
1. Transparency: The enhanced disclosure of procurement data and information across the entire procurement cycle and up to implementation stage, including beneficial owners of companies will make the procurement process more transparent and reveal how public resources are expended.
2. Accountability: The enhanced disclosure of procurement data and information will ensure that citizens understand the basis of decisions made along the procurement cycle. This will make the decision-makers take actions that reflect better use of public resources, knowing that their actions can be challenged through existing recourse mechanism.
3. Service Delivery: The use of open contracting helps the government to achieve value for money by providing a watchdog system that allows wider stakeholders to critique and monitor implementation of contracts. This ultimately checkmates unethical conduct and sharp corrupt practices in the processes of contract delivery.
4. Inclusion: Technology provides wider stakeholder participation in open contracting, thus limits human interface. This will allow stakeholders from all walks of life to interact, access, assess and give informed feedback on how government programs impact their lives.
5. Citizen engagement: Availability of procurement data across the entire procurement cycle and up to implementation will ensure that all stakeholders can monitor the procurement activities and provide feedback. This will ensure that public contracts are delivered with value for money achieved, thereby leading to increased service delivery.
To improve accountability and transparency of public procurement processes, promote wider stakeholder participation and better service delivery through the implementation of OCDS.
The efficient procurement system is evident in better contracting outcomes and improved position in global rankings on public procurement.
See action plan for milestone activities.
IRM Midterm Status Summary
2. Operationalization of Open Contracting and the Open Contracting Data Standards (OCDS)
“To improve accountability and transparency of public procurement processes, promote wider stakeholder participation and better service delivery through the implementation of OCDS”
- Capacity building for all MDAs for the use of NOPOCO. Capacity building for CSOs and private sector on the use of NOPOCO
- Capacity building for sensitization of citizens on how to engage at every stage of the procurement cycle in collaboration with other stakeholders
- Integrate the organized private sector and gender-based organizations into the existing open contracting Forum (PPMWG)
- Upgrade of the NOCOPO portal to reflect user feedback, private sector segment, contractual data and analytical tools for better user experience
- Increase engagement with available data sets through procurement monitoring by groups (CSOs, gender CSOs, private sector, etc.)
- Conduct an annual NOCOPO ranking in line with SGF’s circular, Public Procurement Act 2007 and BPP’s directive mandating data publication on NOCOPO
- Establish sustained integration of the Nigeria open contracting portal with the budgeting system and (e-government platform) EGP
- Inclusion of the requirement of the Beneficial ownership in public procurement
Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Nigeria’s action plan at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/nigeria-action-plan-2019-2021/
This commitment aims to improve the accountability of public procurement, building on Commitment 2 of Nigeria’s 2017–2019 OGP action plan. More than 60% of corruption cases in the country have been related to procurement procedures,  illustrating the need for better transparency and monitoring of public contracts. Under the previous action plan, the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) launched Nigeria’s Open Contracting Portal (NOCOPO), an online portal to disclose contractual data.  The government also adopted the Open Contracting Disclosure Guideline, which regulates disclosure of contracts, projects, timelines, and publication on NOCOPO.  In July 2018, the government issued a circular requesting MDAs to submit procurement records and plans on NOCOPO within stipulated timelines,  which only eight MDAs complied with.  Additionally, the previous action plan did not succeed in establishing the National Procurement Council mandated by the 2007 Public Procurement Act. 
Under the current action plan, this commitment includes eight milestones. Milestone 2 continues from the previous action plan, aiming to conduct capacity building for citizens on engagement in the procurement cycle. The commitments’ new milestones seek to provide capacity building to MDAs on the use of the NOCOPO and to upgrade and integrate NOCOPO with the budgeting system and e-government platform. They also intend to encourage public participation by integrating women and private sector organizations into the Public Procurement Working Group (PPMWG) and by increasing CSO monitoring of datasets. Additionally, milestones envision an annual NOCOPO ranking and incorporation of a beneficial ownership disclosure requirement in public procurement.
This commitment is relevant to the OGP value of access to information and civic participation. The commitment seeks to enhance government bodies’ capacity to use NOCOPO and to upgrade and integrate it with government databases, thus improving access to information on public procurement. The commitment is also relevant to civic participation, as it envisions engagement of gender-based CSOs in PPMWG and enhancement of CSOs, private sector, and citizen procurement monitoring capacities. If fully implemented, this commitment could lead to moderate potential impact on disclosure of public procurement information and stakeholder engagement in monitoring efforts.
For a limited time, upgrading NOCOPO could help address deficiencies in user accessibility, improving data disclosure and monitoring opportunities. Because Nigeria is soon moving to an e-procurement system, NOCOPO will eventually be replaced.  This minimizes the long-term impact of milestones specific to NOCOPO. The Public Private Development Centre (PPDC), a CSO focused on procurement and contract monitoring in Nigeria, reported at the time of writing that the data on NOCOPO are not downloadable in a useable format, the domain frequently crashes, project sites are not geotagged, and award letters and contractor details are not available.  However, a representative from the Bureau of Public Procurement noted that the data are downloadable in JSON format and the domain's functionality has recently improved.  Yet citizen awareness of the portal has remained low. According to PPDC, this commitment has the potential to make NOCOPO more user-friendly and increase the number of contracts available on the portal. Under the previous action plan, NOCOPO was piloted with 8 MDAs, and the current plan intends to expand to many more MDAs. PPDC also anticipates that the availability of more contracts on the portal would subsequently lead to greater uptake by CSOs, media, and the general public. 
Capacity building for MDAs could address lack of technical skills on NOCOPO usage,  which the Bureau of Public Procurement has cited as one of the obstacles for uploading information on the portal. Improving capacity could lead to increasing the number of MDAs publishing on NOCOPO, which has been minimal so far. Capacity building for CSOs and citizens could substantially boost capabilities of CSOs to engage in procurement monitoring and increase citizens and journalists’ awareness of the opportunity to utilize NOCOPO’s data.  As Connected Development (CODE) notes, widening monitoring by these stakeholders could play an important role in restricting corrupt contracting practices.  However, as noted above, this capacity building will have limited relevance once NOCOPO is replaced.
The milestone to integrate gender-based and private sector organizations into PPMWG could improve the group’s efficacy. Currently, PPMWG includes only one gender-based organization and lacks active private sector participation. According to the Public Private Development Centre (PPDC) and the Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre, expanding the group’s membership to a larger number of gender-focused social accountability organizations could ensure greater PPMWG focus on key gender procurement issues. These include the number of women-owned businesses bidding and winning public contracts, the number of monitoring projects on gender procurement, and the impact of contracts on local female community members. 
Another important element of this commitment is the requirement for disclosure of beneficial ownership information for bidders participating in public procurement. This milestone is unlikely to be achieved without a legislative requirement mandating companies’ disclosures. The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), a CSO focused on combating corruption, notes that reliable disclosure of beneficial ownership information has previously been limited by the absence of legislative requirements for disclosure of beneficial ownership under the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA).  Commitment 6 of the current action plan addresses changes to CAMA and the development of a beneficial ownership register.
Despite the focus on improving the portal and user engagement, the commitment falls short of transformative potential impact given that NOCOPO is expected to be replaced. Additionally, the commitment does not address the incentives for contracting authorities to publish their contracts. It also leaves out the establishment and constitution of the National Procurement Council and of explicit sanctions or mechanisms to enforce compliance with circular 18 of 2018, the Public Procurement Act, and Freedom of Information Act. The absence of a National Procurement Council implies the lack of oversight and the remaining exclusive ability of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to approve contracts. 
Transparency in public procurement is an important policy area for Nigeria. In implementing this commitment, the Open Contracting Partnership recommends focusing on disclosure and use of open contracting data standard (OCDS) rather than of NOCOPO specifically. Additionally, high-level political support could play an important role in encouraging MDAs to publish.  The IRM recommends continuing efforts in this area in the country’s next national action plan. It would be important to honor the earlier commitment of establishing the National Procurement Council and actively exploring means of encouraging MDAs to publish their contracting information.