USAID Extends Anticorruption Efforts in Kosovo Under New Project

April 01, 2022

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is investing to consolidate ongoing efforts that address long-standing issues of corruption and public service delivery in Kosovo.

Prior to 2017, citizens, civil society activists, media, and businesses in Kosovo struggled to find even basic information about public procurement. The procurement process, at that time still paper-based, was plagued with irregularities, leading to a widespread perception that the process was corrupt.

In 2017, USAID in Kosovo launched the Transparent, Effective, and Accountable Municipalities (USAID TEAM) project, implemented by DAI. The project supported key counterparts in government and civil society to push through reforms leading to the shift to 100 percent electronic procurement, the development of civil society-led transparency tools such as the Open Procurement Transparency Portal, the establishment of an Anti-Fraud Unit at the National Audit Office, and dramatic improvements in procurement processes in all Kosovo municipalities.

Despite those advances, there are still corruption vulnerabilities left to be addressed.

The five-year Kosovo Municipal Integrity Activity will enhance public financial management (PFM), with a focus on municipal procurement, and reinforce accountability mechanisms both inside and outside government. Building on the previous successes, the team will work with central government oversight agencies, with municipalities, and with civil society, media, and private sector actors to advance reform in public procurement, with a renewed emphasis on budget planning, contract management, audit, integrity, internal control, anti-corruption, and private sector engagement.

“We achieved breakthrough change in Kosovo’s public procurement through USAID TEAM by introducing and providing access to full, transparent procurement data to the public,” said Deputy Chief of Party Aferdita Mekuli. “Transparency limits the opportunities and incentives for corruption because it provides the real-time information for the wider audience in the process.”

“But transparency is not enough to eradicate corruption,” Mekuli added. “Governments need to fight corruption by streamlining PFM processes, introducing robust internal controls and enforcement mechanisms, and making government officials accountable. This new activity comes just in time to introduce a transformed, transparent PFM process to successfully fight corruption. Robust PFM systems are essential for the whole budget cycle, starting from the budget formulation to its execution, including procurement, financial management control, and internal audit.”

The activity aligns with the mission of USAID’s Anti-Corruption Task Force (ACTF): “expanding and accelerating efforts to build local capacity to prevent, detect, and mitigate corruption and hold corrupt actors accountable; strengthening oversight, accountability, and justice sector institutions; supporting open government and transparency norms; and empowering civil society and media reformers to uncover corruption and engage in collective advocacy.” The project’s anticorruption goals are also shared by the new Kurti Administration in Kosovo.

“Public procurement is an integral part of an effective public administration and PFM—as it is one of the key means by which public money is spent to provide public services,” said Mekuli.

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