Building Back Better: How can we improve the Effectiveness and Equity of Public Procurement in the aftermath of Covid-19?
Countries around the world have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Bank has warned that the current crisis could undo decades of global poverty reduction. The huge economic costs mean that smarter, more efficient, and more equitable government spending is more important than ever before. As public procurement is the main way that governments spend their money, reforms to boost efficiency, make limited resources go further, improve sustainability and rebuild the devastated small business sector are more important than ever before. Supporting open contracting reforms will not only strengthen democratic governance and accountability, it will help to ensure efficiency, effectiveness, and equity in our public spending.
Last April, the OCP (with support from HIVOS) was able to support action research projects from 12 countries to identify concrete recommendations that could improve emergency procurement practices and to advocate for their implementation with policy makers. You can see the results of our previous action research projects focusing on COVID-19 emergency procurement here. We are continuing to work with these teams to follow-up and push for the implementation of their recommendations.
OCP has also been working to document emerging practices to improve inclusion in public procurement, including both women-led businesses and other under-represented groups. You can read our research looking at gender and public procurement in Latin America here and our report on a Procurement Path to Equity with the Aspen Institute here.
In this call for Action Research Projects, with support from Canada’s International Development Research Centre's Open Data for Development program, we want to actively support researchers to use procurement data to identify areas where policy reform could lead to measurable improvements in development outcomes: focusing on the equity of public procurement and/or the effectiveness of public procurement. We expect not only strong research projects, but also strong plans to convert research into action through advocacy.
Research Questions & Advocacy Plans
We are interested in proposals that explore one or more of the following research questions:
What factors enable more equitable public procurement?
Recent research has shown that women-led businesses and other under-represented groups face a myriad of challenges when seeking to participate in public procurement. We invite researchers to develop methodologies to investigate which factors affect rates of participation and success of these groups in public procurement and to issue recommendations to make public procurement processes more equitable and inclusive. Research teams should also describe their advocacy plans to build support for implementation of their recommendations.
What factors are leading to ineffectiveness of public procurement?
At the end of the day, governments enter into public contracts to deliver goods, infrastructure, and services for citizens. If these contracts are canceled or poorly performed, then they will have been ineffective in achieving their objectives. We invite researchers to identify sectors or projects that are important to their local contexts economic recovery to develop methodologies and investigations into what prevents contracts from succeeding and develop recommendations to ensure that we really do build back better from the Covid-19 crisis. For example, delay can be a symptom of corruption and it can also be a cause of tragedy. Delays in procurement planning can be used as a tactic to justify ‘emergency’ direct awards at the end of the fiscal year. If the procurement was to improve the safety of a major highway (with improved lighting and shoulder paving) then lives may have been lost in the interim periods. We invite researchers to explore adapting this methodology that looks at which variables affect duration times in the different stages of the procurement cycle? How do delays in different procurement stages can affect efficiency, value for money or serve as red flags to detect corruption? What concrete policy recommendations could lead to measurable improvements? We also welcome proposals that seek to develop or reuse alternative methodologies that examine procurement effectiveness, including projects focused on particular sectors (such as infrastructure or health).
Resources and Support Available
Selected proposals will receive the following support:
Capacity building for data analysis;
Support with data collection and processing;
Advocacy support to help researchers to convert their findings into action by government; and
A grant of 3000 USD (1000 at the outset and 2000 USD upon completion of the report)
Researchers from any country are eligible. Preference will be given to researchers who reside in the target jurisdiction of their research.
Call for Proposals published by Nov 30 with deadline of Jan 30, 2021 Selection by Feb 28, 2021 Research reports completed by Sept 30, 2021 Advocacy October & November Findings disseminated by March 30, 2022
Please submit the following:
Proposal outlining the research question you will pursue, your capability to deliver the research, and your ability to advocate for your recommendations to be implemented. Please summarize a similar research that resulted in actionable policy recommendations (and subsequent resulting reforms if achieved). If your team does not have advocacy experience, please indicate whether you would be working with an advocacy partner. 5 pages max.