Open Contracting (RO0025)
Action Plan: Romania, Second Action Plan, 2014-2016
Action Plan Cycle: 2014
Lead Institution: National Authority for Regulating and Monitoring Public Procurement (ANRMAP)
Support Institution(s): Ministry of the Information Society (Digital Agenda Agency); Ministry of Public Finance; Ministry of European Funds CSOs: Funky Citizens Association; Open Society Foundation
Policy AreasAnti-Corruption, Open Contracting and Public Procurement, Public Procurement
Early Results: Marginal
Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Public Accountability , Technology
This commitment aims to increase transparency and lead to a more efficient spending of public money by involving citizens in the public contracting process including tendering, performance and completion.
In this way, the government commits to work with the civil society and other stakeholders to endorse the open contracting principles and enhance the transparency of public contracting.
IRM End of Term Status Summary
Commitment 7. Open Contracting
1. The agencies will initiate consultations and explore the possibility of obtaining technical assistance from the World Bank (the coordinator of open contracting efforts worldwide).
2. The agencies will consult all stakeholders in the Romanian procurement system – citizens, civil society, public institutions involved in the process - and deliver a written Report. The report should include an assessment of the present context and issues, identify needs and required resources and next steps recommendations for the implementation of open contracting in Romania.
3. The agencies will carry out an open contracting pilot project to build on the findings and help adjust the international principles to the Romanian context. Representatives of the civil society will take part in development and monitoring of the pilot.
4. Analysis and presentation of the pilot’s results. The project evaluation report, developed in collaboration by the representatives of public administration and civil society, will be presented in a public conference.
5. Depending on the conclusions of the assessment Report, draft the proposal to amend current legislation to allow implementation of open contracting.
Responsible institution: National Authority for Regulating and Monitoring Public Procurement
Supporting institution(s): Ministry of the Information Society (Digital Agenda Agency), Ministry of Public Finance, Ministry of European Funds, Funky Citizens Association, Open Society Foundation
Start date: July 2014 End date: June 2016
The commitment’s main goal is to apply the principles of open contracting to publicly funded contracts exceeding RON 250,000 (about EUR 55,000).[Note 23: Existing legislation (Emergency Government Ordinance 34/2006) establishes two thresholds that are different from the one mentioned in the commitment: EUR 30,000 for acquisition of goods and services, and EUR 100,000 for execution of works.] (Contracts containing confidential information are excluded).[Note 24: On the definition of confidential information: OUG 34/2006, Art. 215 available in Romanian at http://legislatie.just.ro/Public/DetaliiDocument/178723). It states: “The public procurement file is a public document in the form it had at the moment someone required access to information in the file. Access to this information […] can be restricted only to the extent the information is confidential, classified, or protected under intellectual property law.” It is unclear if only the confidential information within a file is excepted or if institutions will argue that the confidential character extends to the whole file.] Officials then publish contracts on the Public Procurement Electronic System (SEAP), a public procurement portal. To complete this commitment, the government has to elucidate the required steps for implementation, based on consultations with the World Bank and Romanian stakeholders. A pilot open contracting project will then be used to test strategies and will culminate in civil society and government recommendations for changes in current practice or legislative amendments needed to implement open contracting.
Consultations with the World Bank and with all procurement system stakeholders were concluded or substantially completed by the time of the midterm evaluation. The government held a set of broad consultations among public institutions, civil society, and citizens to identify the needs and required resources for the implementation of open contracting in Romania. The Digital Agenda Agency of Romania (AADR) studied and pledged to apply the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) to the next version of the SEAP portal with assistance and input from civil society.
The third milestone activity required a pilot project. Due to administrative and bureaucratic hurdles, the government did not start the project, which halted implementation. All remaining activities relied on the pilot project’s completion and have therefore stalled. For more information, please see the 2014–2015 IRM midterm report.
End of term: Limited
There has been little progress on implementing this commitment since the midterm evaluation. The pilot project remains stalled, and as a result the remaining milestone activities could not be completed.
Did it open government?
Access to information: Marginal
Public accountability: Did not change
In its current stage, the commitment did not stretch government practice in public accountability because the government did not create a mechanism to hold officials accountable. However, despite its limited completion, the commitment resulted in some marginal improvements for access to information. The Digital Agenda Agency’s implementation of the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS)[Note 25: Civil society representatives working on budgets and public procurement think the commitment could be successful given the decision to implement the OCDS. During the OGP Club meeting dedicated to the self-assessment report, a representative of an NGO suggested the pilot project that the Ministry for Public Consultation and Civic Dialogue is in charge of implementing.] and the thorough discussions with civil society representatives have led to some positive progress. The government self-assessment report states that the open contracting standard for publishing data has been applied to the SEAP portal. However, a CSO representative clarified that the only information available to date is what the government has presented during OGP Club meetings. There is no outside verification that the government has applied the OCDS system to the procurement portal, though the CSO representative confirmed that the government is regularly updating the portal every three months. Civil society organizations have continued to pressure the government to complete this commitment and successfully advocated for its upgrade and inclusion in the next action plan. The revised commitment will attempt to overcome the problems encountered during the recent implementation period. Although there have been some positive changes, some CSOs remain skeptical that the platform is near completion and will be fully function in the near future, given the lack of verifiable information on progress.
Open contracting has been, in one way or another, present in all of Romania’s national action plans: creating an electronic platform in the first action plan, implementing open contracting principles in the second action plan, and implementing the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) in the upcoming third action plan. The commitment has been carried forward in the third action plan and will aim to implement the stalled pilot program.