The Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) has charged public institutions to make full disclosure of their procurement data to the public.
“Making procurement data available will enable Civil Society Organisations, the media and the general public to subject such procurements to a thorough scrutiny and if there are any red flag, it will be raised before the contracts are even awarded.
“For instance, if data was available the former Public Procurement Authority’s (PPA) boss’ conflict of interest situation would have been detected much earlier and wouldn’t have gotten to where it did,” Ms Faustina Djabatey, Communications Officer of GACC, said.
Speaking at a workshop in Accra, she said data available to the coalition indicated that a number of public institutions, particularly those in the education and health sectors, continue to breach the country's procurement regulations, saying, “this has led to massive financial losses to the State over the years”.
She said data gathered via the Public Procurement Authority's (PPA) website showed that some public institutions were not providing the required data while others had failed to make such disclosures in years.
She further noted that even though some of these public institutions awarded contracts for some projects, there was no information on the tender processes, owners of the contracted firms and how those contracts were awarded.
Ms Djabatey added that this had led to issues of conflict of interest, stalling of some projects as well as improper location of projects.
The workshop was organised by GACC for members of the CSOs, media, district assemblies, PPA as well as other public institutions.
It formed part of the Coalition's, "From Disclosure to Impact: Deepening and Broadening Open Contracting in Africa" project, aimed at encouraging CSOs, media and public to demand disclosure of procurement data from public institutions to promote accountability.
Funded by the Hewlett Foundation through Africa Freedom of Information Centre, the project aims at improving delivery of health and education services through promotion of disclosure, public participation, efficiency, value for money and competition in public contracting in Ghana.
Ms Djabatey urged other CSOs to include in their various programmes the disclosure of procurement data to drum home the need for proactive disclosure of procurement data.
Mr Michael Djisu, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at GACC, also urged public institutions to adopt internationally accepted procurement standards such as the Open Contract Partnership as part of their plans in disclosing procurement data.
Open Contracting is about publishing and using open, accessible and timely information on government contracting to engage citizens in identifying and fixing problems.
Mr David Damoah, Head of Corporate Affairs and Facilities Management at PPA, called for resourcing of the Authority to enable it to carry out its mandate.
e said as part of efforts to ensure compliance, the Authority was putting in place stringent measures that would allow it to reject any procurement without a plan by any public institution, and compel the Finance Ministry decline payments for such projects.
To reduce the challenges associated with the current procurement system, Mr Gideon Sandinah, the Senior IT Officer- Management Information Systems at PPA, said the Authority had rolled 102 public institutions onto the Ghana Electronic Procurement Systems (GhanEPS) with 41 tenders received via the platform.
"We believe that with time all public institutions will be rolled onto the platform and this will address the challenges associated with procurement because on GhanEPS you cannot procure outside your business plan," he said.