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A New Role for Citizens in Public Procurement - First publication of the Citizens & Markets Initiative

Even though very few countries worldwide have legislation explicitly allowing for procurement monitoring by civil society, citizens around the globe are increasingly eager to enter public procurement processes. A significant amount of public funds in almost every country is spent on acquiring goods and services through public procurement. Procurement of goods, works and services by public entities alone amounts on average to between 15 and 30 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Given that procurement directly affects citizens’ access to basic services, utilities, infrastructure and health-care, examining the rules under which governments acquire goods and services as well as the implementation of these rules is fundamental to determine how transparent and competitive governments are when purchasing with taxpayer money.

Experience shows that citizen’s engagement in procurement can help to increase social and consumer welfare, ensure sound budgeting, stimulate an economy based on innovation, and strengthen democratic governance. Further analysis of the tools and consequences of citizen participation in public contracting can enhance the debate on the future of public control. This is why, after having participated in more than 150 contracting processes, Transparencia Mexicana took the bold step to start building knowledge around this issue.


The publication “A New Role for Citizens in Public Procurement” launched by Transparencia Mexicana’s Citizens & Markets initiative seeks to analyse the transformations that can take place when citizens enter public procurement processes. The book focuses on trends of citizen’s participation in public procurement around the globe, with contributions from different sectors and countries, including Brazil, Mexico and Kenya. 

Adequate access to procurement information is one of the most important preconditions for procurement monitoring. Proactive disclosure of information provides citizens with the necessary information to support their involvement in the oversight of procurement operations. Among other findings, the publication underlines that OECD countries increasingly disclose information linked to the pre-tender and tender phases of the cycle. However, only a few countries provide an accessible method for citizens to track procurement expenditure on post-award stages. 

The book also addresses the challenges of public procurement regimes in federal countries. While a large portion of public procurement can be attributed to sub-national governments, existing gaps and distortions of rules between different government levels represent important challenges, and often result in little or no advantage for local development. At the local level problems remain in planning and budgeting, excessive regulation, shortcomings in the use of electronic bidding tools, as well as the absence of an effective evaluation system. These findings - among others outlined in the publication - pose new questions and reflect that more research is needed on future concepts and frameworks of public control. 

Citation: E.Bohórquez et al. (eds.), A New Role for Citizens in Public Procurement (Transparencia Mexicana, 2012) (available for download below)



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24 Jul 2012

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