COVID-19 Resources: Information Activists Call for Open Contracting

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Head of DGF, Nicole Bjerler (Courtesy photo)

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called upon Government to consider open contracting for procurement of COVID-19 response services.

The call was made during the commemoration of the 2020 edition of the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) under the theme: “Access to Information in times of crisis” organized at Serena Hotel in Kampala.

Speaking during the high level dialogue organized by Africa Freedom of Information Centre, the Head of DGF, Nicole Bjerler commended Ugandan government for registering commendable success towards the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nicole said that the ourbreak of COVID-19 has necessitated large scale procurement in order to save lives and as such public resources have been used adding that it is crucial that adequate methods of oversight and procurement are in place to respond to new and emerging challenges.

Nicole noted that the essence of open contracting is to keep the public in the loop and enable them to monitor proper resource utilization and effective project execution.

Open contracting ensures sharing, reusable and machine-readable procurement data throughout the public procurement cycle and this can help deliver better value for money for governments, create fairer competition and a level playing field for businesses especially small firms.

Open contracting also helps deliver high quality goods, services and works for citizens, prevents fraud and corruption as well as promotion of smarter analysis and better solutions to public procurement problems.

“As government considers the amendment to the PPDA Act, we encourage open contracting which means exposure of data along the procurement process to facilitate effective participation of citizens in the procurement process,” Nicole said.

Africa Freedom of Information Centre (FIC) Executive Director, Gilbert Sendugwa appreciated the Ministry of Health for their efforts in providing access to information about the COVID-19 pandemic which has helped to save lives.

“Access to information is essential to saving lives; citizens need to be treated to timely and accurate information so that they can practice precautionary measures. Any delay or failure to access such information, can prove disaster for everyone, information is necessary for prevention and recovery,” Sendugwa said.