Kosovo—Transparent, Effective, and Accountable Municipalities (TEAM)

Client: U.S. Agency for International Development

Duration: 2016-2022

Region: Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Country: Kosovo

Solutions: Governance

Public procurement is a government tool used to deliver goods and services such as fixing roads, building schools, or buying medical equipment for citizens. Fair competition, a level playing field, and transparency are essential to ensuring public money is spent responsibly and leads to the best value for citizens in terms of high quality goods and services.

However, in Kosovo, citizens, civil society organizations, and private sector economic operators report that public procurement had been compromised by political patronage, nepotism, fraud, and other forms of corruption. This problem reduces public resources available for service delivery to citizens, undermines public confidence in government, and deters foreign investment. It is critically important for the Government of Kosovo to address these weaknesses or gaps in the procurement system, especially at the municipal level, to safeguard public money spent through public procurement.

To assist the Government of Kosovo in strengthening systems and limit opportunities for fraud, waste, or abuse in public procurement, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the five-year Transparent, Effective and Accountable Municipalities (USAID TEAM) activity. The project supports Kosovo to improve the transparency and accountability of the municipal procurement process in all 38 municipalities. At the central level, USAID TEAM works with institutions that oversee public procurement, supervise municipal internal auditors, manage the municipal budgeting process, and oversee anti-corruption investigations. In addition, USAID TEAM builds the capacity of civil society organizations to exercise citizen oversight municipal procurement in a watchdog role and to provide checks and balances by exposing corrupt practices and working with citizens and local governments as a partner in the process of procurement modernization.

Sample Activities

  • Support the implementation and rollout of the electronic procurement system and the move to a fully electronic procurement environment, markedly improving the transparency and accountability of government procurement activities.
  • Provide day-to-day coaching and mentoring assistance in five focus municipalities (Prishtinë/Priština, Gjakovë/Đakovica, Pejë/Peć, Gjilan/Gnjilane and Vushtrri/Vučitrn) in procurement, finance, and audit.
  • Partner with central government institutions and independent agencies to strengthen the procurement system and enhance oversight and audit mechanisms.
  • Work with civil society organizations in all 38 municipalities to strengthen their capacities to collect, analyze, and share data on corruption in public procurement.

Select Results

  • The Public Procurement Regulatory Commission (PPRC) fully adopted electronic procurement and expanded the functionality of the e-Procurement platform. Now, procurement tenders for all government agencies must be issued through the e-Procurement platform and private sector economic operators must submit their bids online (SEE VIDEO ABOVE). All contracting authorities must now publish procurement contract data on the electronic platform. Currently there are 12,282 public contracts available to citizens on the e-Procurement platform. In 2018 and 2019, government agencies initiated 12,237 procurement activities valued at €740 million through e-Procurement.
  • 24 Kosovo municipalities voluntarily published 2,895 procurement contracts on their municipal websites.
  • The Procurement Review Body (PRB) now requires all bid protests be submitted through an e-Appeals module on the e-Procurement platform. In addition, the PRB recently began live-streaming their board hearings on their website.
  • The National Audit Office launched an Anti-Fraud Unit to handle procurement cases with suspected fraud elements and forwards them to the State Prosecutor’s Office for further investigation. In 2018 and 2019, its first two year of operation, the unit identified 87 public procurement cases containing suspected fraud elements and sent them to the State Prosecutor.
  • Supported the creation of the Open Procurement Transparency Portal (OPTP), a civil society-led web portal that automatically pulls data from the Government’s e-procurement platform and presents it in a user-friendly manner, allowing researchers to explore interactive linkages between public money, government agencies, and private sector contractors, and to identify unusual patterns that may indicate fraud or corruption. As of 30 September 2019, there have been 18,319 visitors to the portal. Close to 12 percent of these clicks were return visitors. Civil society, investigative journalists, businesses, and even Government of Kosovo officials report using the OPTP as a starting point for investigations or for business intelligence.
  • Social audits and public expenditure tracking surveys (PETS) empowered citizens by turning them into citizen-assessors and advocates, leading to meaningful improvements to school and park construction projects in Vushtrri and Pristina municipalities.
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