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Linking budget and procurement data to Nigeria’s public services

By Seember Nyager

In 2015, Nigeria’s procurement monitors were occupied with verifying the performance of contracts awarded for projects across the country such as the Al Majiri schools and primary health care centres. And while some progress has been made, it is still difficult to link available budget and procurement contract data in order to track the public service each of these contracts is expected to deliver.

Procurement monitors observed that most of the information is available only through FOI requests. Additionally the data that is being made available at various stages leading to the public service in question is often provided in different formats, making it difficult to link data from one stage to the other.

So as part of a bid to make information around public contracts and the procurement process more coherent, my team of monitors at the Public Private Development Centre has set up a visual demonstration on the usefulness of adopting the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) across the public procurement value chain.

Budeshi (“open it” in Hausa language) is a site aimed at linking budget and procurement data to various public services and one that is accessible to the public to interact with the available data and make their own comparisons.

Budeshi is intended to show how utilising the OCDS can enable budget and procurement data to be linked to public services and how the government can use this analytical tool to easily discover red flags in the system.

Why is this important?

The number of public contracts executed in each year is such that no one agency or unit can verify them all. It is therefore important that data standards are integrated into the current practices of keeping records around public resource utilisation so the records can be linked to the delivery of the public infrastructure or service.

If such a system is deployed, then without having to physically visit every single location that a contract is being executed in, the analyses can point to red flags which indicate projects whose performance needs to be verified because of a questionable record. However this requires data standards that link the contracting process across various stages.

This is where the OCDS comes in. This data standard maps all stages in the contracting process from conception to project delivery and created uniform standards that enable links to be drawn.

How does the OCDS work?

  1. Each contract from conception, to budget, to contract award and execution is given a unique identifier:

2. Based on the unique identifier and visualisation tools, a comparison can be made between budgets and eventual contract sums, contracts without prior budget allocations can be easily identified and the completion rates of various contractors can be seen:

The OCDS is premised on the fact that we can prevent some of the expensive corruption investigations and prosecutions as well as inefficiencies in public procurement by deploying data standards that enable us link various data from the budget to procurement and ultimately to public services in a timely way.

At the moment, Budeshi has datasets received from the Universal Basic Education Commission and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency to demonstrate the benefits of deploying the OCDS across the public services. Please visit www.budeshi.ng to view the platform.

Additionally, the Budeshi platform is being used to carry out advocacy to public institutions seeking to have Open Contracting adopted across public services in Nigeria and beyond.

We welcome your support in making this a reality.

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