Public Contracts – Public Procurement & Sale of Public Assets
This focus area involves government commerce – what governments are buying and selling, leasing or renting, digital transformation centred on the principles of Open Government as well as the EBRD's related collaboration with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the United Nations Commission for International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).
Towards smart, sustainable and inclusive digital Government-to-Business (G2B) markets
Public contracts are behind major and expensive public projects (in areas such as infrastructure, education and health care), which deliver essential everyday services to the public and make a vital contribution to national economic development. Governments wield significant purchasing power, and G2B transactions have a weighty impact on the economic performance of domestic markets and the quality of life for citizens, in particular in transition economies where the EBRD operates. At the same time, government contracts remain a number-one corruption risk, and waste and inefficiencies are rife. Many governments do not know where in the globalised world their public funds end up.
A main objective of the EBRD’s Legal Transition Programme (LTP) is to support legal reforms behind digital transformation of government purchasing and selling, to ensure that government commerce laws in the Bank’s regions are modern, fit-to-market and meeting the needs of digital economy.
Policy and regulation
The challenge for governments in regulating public procurement and sale of public assets is to develop legal regimes that prioritise environmental sustainability and balance economic efficiency with the need for a high level of transparency with public contracts. All stakeholders – government departments and other public bodies, the business community and citizens – need to be aware of the fundamental principles of transparency, open market access for business big and small, domestic and international, and fair competition, as these play an important role in ensuring that state budget funds are well spent and public assets are sold to commercial buyers at market prices. Government commerce laws call for regulatory frameworks encouraging high levels of transparency and accountability in public sector. Modern policy recognises that public procurement and public sale laws may become a stimulus for market development and contribute to sustainable transformation of local economies.
The business of government
The fit-to-market and efficiency of public procurement and sale of public assets have a strategic impact on public services, quality of life of citizens and economic development in the EBRD countries of operations. The focus on sustainability in government purchasing and selling, in particular prioritising environmental protection, as well as social and economic development, has a potential to change domestic market practices and with it create new directions for international trade and contribute to environmental conservation efforts.
The EBRD is advocating for laws for public procurement and public sale based on fair competition, without trade barriers but with business-friendly online digital transactions to encourage wide business participation. At the LTP we aim to identify global best practices for improving market access for public procurement and public sales and business-to-government opportunities for domestic and international trade, as well as small and large business.
Digital transformation of public sector procurement and sale processes is essential for the modern digital economy. In complete end-to-end digital procurement and sale, ICT system business-to-government transactions can be initiated and completed online, with real-time data-driven super transparent monitoring and auditing enabled, and bureaucracy and formalities limited to fundamentals.
Designing modern policies and implementing digital reforms in tandem requires a collaborative and frequently multi-disciplinary approach. Tools and methodologies for automated compliance, monitoring and enforcement are key to data-driven policy enforcement and public sector performance monitoring. In addition to increased transparency and transaction efficiency, these offer quick and efficient feedback loops to enable refinement of legislation and regulations, tools and control mechanisms and, as a result, further innovations.
The LTP’s experience has confirmed that digital transformation reforms are more successful when policymakers, lawyers and data scientists work together in legal sandboxes and digital government tools are centred on open data as means for the interoperability of digital government and built upon Open Data standards to promote Open Government and effectively engage market stakeholders including civil society organisations in dialogue with public authorities.
The LTP therefore aims to create a lab zone within technical cooperation projects where legal expertise, innovative economic thinking, data enthusiasm and Open Government values can mix freely, and that works with champion governments in the transition economies on developing and piloting new data-driven and results-based policies.
Legal sandbox pilot projects explore best regulatory options for automation of compliance and policy enforcement for government commerce and prototype digital data solutions to analyse lessons learned from pilot experience in order to develop new regulatory standards for automated compliance enforcement and data-driven policy enforcement and performance monitoring for public procurement and and sale of public assets.
In the spirit of this collaboration, the LTP operates an open-sourced wiki for digital government commerce tools at GitHub (EBRD Digital Transformation), wherein EBRD digital transformation know-how products can be shared publicly and widely; regulatory and digitalisation knowledge developed for specific reform projects can be accessed online and is open for re-use.