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Romania

Open Contracting (RO0046)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Romania Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: National Agency for Public Procurement (ANAP) Digital Agenda Agency (AADR)

Support Institution(s): Chancellery of the Prime-Minister; Funky Citizens; Open Society Foundation

Policy Areas

Anti-Corruption, Anti-Corruption Institutions, Capacity Building, E-Government, Fiscal Openness, Open Contracting and Public Procurement, Private Sector, Public Participation, Public Procurement, Publication of Budget/Fiscal Information

IRM Review

IRM Report: Romania Mid-Term Report 2016-2018, Romania End-of-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Status quo or problem addressed by the commitment As public procurement represents one of the most important topics related to government transparency, the Government of Romania is in the process of implementing the Open Contracting Data Standard, as a tool to increase the transparency of public acquisitions and for the correct transposition of European directives. Main objective Increase the transparency and efficiency of public spending Brief description of commitment The commitment is a continuation of one of the priorities of the 2014-2016 NAP and its objective is to increase the transparency and efficiency of public spending by opening data collected through the electronic procurement system in the OCD standard, as well as by engaging citizens in the process. Data will cover planning, award, implementation, performance, and completion of public contracts. OCDS data will be directly accessible in the eLicitatie platform, even for users unskilled in automatic data collection / processing, by applying search filters on criteria such as contracting authority, economic operator, procurement name etc. OPG challenge addressed by the commitment Increasing public integrity More Effectively Managing Public Resources Access to information; Public Accountability; Civic Participation; Technology and Innovation Ambition Implementation of Open Contracting principles in a pilot conducted in one or more public institutions; Implementation of the Open Contracting Data Standard in the national public procurement system.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

17. Open Contracting

Commitment Text:

The commitment is a continuation of one of the priorities of the 2014-2016 NAP and its objective is to increase the transparency and efficiency of public spending by opening data collected through the electronic procurement system in the OCD standard, as well as by engaging citizens in the process. Data will cover planning, award, implementation, performance, and completion of public contracts. OCDS data will be directly accessible in the e-Licitatie (e-Procurement) platform, even for users unskilled in automatic data collection / processing, by applying search filters on criteria such as contracting authority, economic operator, procurement name etc.

Main Objective:

Increase the transparency and efficiency of public spending.

Milestones:

    • Informing and training the public procurement staff in local and central public institutions
    • Implementation of the OCDS in the e-licitatie.ro portal (public procurement portal). Following the JSON standard, a webservice will serve API calls according to the OCDS, covering: Buyer Information, Tender/Initiation, Award, Contract, Implementation, Planning, Document, Budget, Item, Amendment, Classification, Contact Point, Value, Period.
    • Publishing the datasets resulted from the OCDS implementation, on the data.gov.ro portal
    • Selection of one or more public institutions for the implementation of a pilot on applying the OC principles (for all phases of the contracting process)
    • Piloting the implementation of OC principles in one public institution, in collaboration with civil society, in all phases: development / planning, awarding, execution, implementation / monitoring, completion, assessment

Responsible institution: National Agency for Public Procurement (ANAP) Digital Agenda Agency (AADR)

Supporting institution(s): Chancellery of the Prime-Minister, Funky Citizens; Open Society Foundation

Start date: September 2016                                                  End date: June 2018

Editorial Note: The commitment text is abridged. The full text can be found in the OGP 2016–2018 national action plan.

Commitment Aim

With this commitment, AADR—the Romanian Digital Agenda Agency that is in charge of the public procurement e-licitatie.ro portal—pledged to adopt the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) for its procurement portal (Milestones 1 and 2) and publish it on data.gov.ro (Milestone 3). Finally, the commitment aimed to pilot the application of the open contracting principles (Milestones 4 and 5). This commitment was considered potentially transformative for making procurement information publicly accessible.

STATUS

Midterm: Not Started

This commitment was not started at the time of the IRM progress report.

End-of-term: Limited

According to the government’s self-assessment report, only the implementation of the OCDS in the e-licitatie.ro portal was started. In order to implement the OCDS in the procurement process in Romania the SEAP—the Electronic System for Public Procurement (eProcurement)—had to be redesigned. The tender specifications of SICAP—The Collaborative Information System for an Effective Public Procurement Environment—clearly mentioned that procurement data needed to comply with the OCDS. [116] A demo of the OCDS export facilities of SICAP was presented during an OGP Club meeting. [117] Nevertheless, UTI—the private contractor—had major delays in delivering SICAP, in part because of the UTI leadership being investigated for corruption. [118]

SICAP was launched in April 2018, but the data export component is not working, therefore SICAP cannot export the bulk data on data.gov.ro. [119] In December 2018, no bulk data on public procurements was published on data.gov.ro after the transition from SEAP to SICAP was completed.

Did it Open Government?

Access to information: Worsened

Although, SICAP—the new public procurement portal of the AADR that replaces SEAP—has a more user-friendly interface than SEAP, it remains largely an eProcurement system, not an open contracting system (i.e. the public consultations prior to tendering, the procurement contract, the additional documents to the contract, etc. are not included. [120]). SICAP also has not been able to publish bulk data to the national data portal, as SEAP did before.

The experts interviewed by the IRM researcher confirmed that SICAP had to be made in accordance to the OCDS. Nevertheless, since its releases in April 2018, and until November 2018, it did not export its bulk data to the national data portal. [121] Conversely, the previous system, SEAP, did publish the data in bulk, in an open format, and under an open license, every three months. Bulk data has proven to be essential for investigative journalists. Some of the biggest corruption scandals in Romania (Club COLECTIV [122] and the Disinfectants Scandal [123]) were triggered by investigative journalists analyzing the bulk data on data.gov.ro. A civil society representative argued that with some good programmers and the bulk data, corruption and bribery in public procurement can easily be uncovered. Otherwise, investigative journalists need to know exactly what to look for in order to uncover corruption. [124]

One interviewee suggested that manual searches and copy-paste exercises can still retrieve the bulk data from SICAP, though these can be tedious and very costly exercises. [125] To this end, it is easier to query in SICAP than in SEAP. [126] Furthermore, opinions were mixed as to whether SICAP really has implemented the OCDS principles. Some believe that SICAP simply has several technical problems to prevent the bulk data. [127] The IRM researcher was not able to find out the government position on this, as the leadership of the AADR did not respond to the two email invitations to discussion that the IRM researcher sent. [128]

Civic participation: Did not change

As the piloting of the implementation of the OCDS principles in one public institution, in collaboration with civil society, did not take place, this commitment did open government with respect to civic participation. Nevertheless, the absence of bulk data factually restricts civic participation in the broader fight against corruption.

Carried forward?

This commitment will not be continued in the 2018–2020 national action plan.

[116] Larisa Panait and Angela Benga, OGP Romania, interview by IRM researcher on 6 November 2018, Ovidiu Voicu, Centre for Public Integrity, interview by IRM researcher on 8 November 2018, and Andrei Nicoara, Open Data Coalition, interview by IRM researcher on 15 November 2018.

[117] Minute 40 of the “Debate on the open governance of the NAP 2014–2016”, available [in Romanian] at https://goo.gl/CBCW1T.

[118] “Seful UTI Tiberiu Urdareanu retinut de DNA”, Economica, 29 October 2017, available [in Romanian] at https://goo.gl/LEsN7G.

[119] Ovidiu Voicu, Centre for Public Integrity, interview by IRM researcher on 8 November 2018, and Andrei Nicoara, Open Data Coalition, interview by IRM researcher on 15 November 2018.

[120] Elena Calistru, Funky Citizens, interview by IRM researcher on 13 November 2018.

[121] Larisa Panait and Angela Benga, OGP Romania, interview by IRM researcher on 6 November 2018, Ovidiu Voicu, Centre for Public Integrity, interview by IRM researcher on 8 November 2018, and Andrei Nicoara, Open Data Coalition, interview by IRM researcher on 15 November 2018.

[122] “Colectiv nightclub fire”, Wikipedia, available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colectiv_nightclub_fire.

[123] Anealla Safdar, “Diluted disinfectant scandal hits Romania hospitals”, AlJazeera, 14 May 2016, available at https://goo.gl/2kDcRR.

[124] Ovidiu Voicu, Centre for Public Integrity, interview by IRM researcher on 8 November 2018.

[125] Bulk data refers to the entire dataset of public procurements. This bulk dataset can be recreated from the search portal if the user identifies each entry, separately by searching manually for the right keyword, and then by copy-pasting each entry onto their local hard drive. Ovidiu Voicu, Centre for Public Integrity, interview by IRM researcher on 8 November 2018.

[126] Ovidiu Voicu, Centre for Public Integrity, interview by IRM researcher on 8 November 2018 and Elena Calistru, Funky Citizens, interview by IRM researcher on 13 November 2018.

[127] Andrei Nicoara, Open Data Coalition, interview by IRM researcher on 15 November 2018.

[128] Emails were sent to the address liviu.stoica@aadr.ro on 6 November 2018 and on 11 November 2018.


Commitments

Open Government Partnership