How is the public money spent in Moldova through public procurement? Openmoney.md knows everything
31 Oct 2017 by Olga Crivoliubic and Natalia Costas
How is public money spent and who are the real beneficiaries of the contracts attributed by state institutions? I think it was not once you have asked yourselves these questions. These questions are natural, as public institutions spend annually about 9-10% of the GDP to procure services, works, goods, and public procurement remains an area with high risks of corruption and conflicts of interest.
Now you can find the answers to these questions right away: by accessing www.OpenMoney.md – an application that uses open data to show the connections between public procurement contracts and final beneficiaries - an institution, a company or a person. The idea of OpenMoney application came during the first anticorruption hackathon, initiated by UNDP Moldova in the summer 2016, that encouraged young people to develop innovative IT solutions meant to involve citizens in preventing and reporting corruption cases.
After one years since the application was launched, it has already proved its efficiency and brought notable results. Why? Because:
1. It is a necessary tool for a wide group of users: journalists, contracting authorities, civic activists, offerors (business representatives), investigators and any interested or curious person.
2. It has a rapid search function and it is easy in use. “It is one of the tools that can be really used by the society and contracting authorities to check the risks of fraud in public procurement. Such initiatives should be encouraged and developed", notes Arcadie Rotaru, Head of the Analytical Division of the National Anticorruption Center (NAC).
By September 2017, the page www.openmoney.md registered 123,000 views. Every other user comes back to the platform. Even the Governmental Open Data Portal includes a reference to OpenMoney Platform. Moreover, the visitors of the website are not only from the Republic of Moldova, but also from Estonia, Latvia, Germany, Lithuania, Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, etc.
The graphics are the most visited part of the platform, presenting the organizational structures of the companies and relations among companies, founders and administrators, being used by journalists in their investigation articles.
It is not by chance that the platform has been widely covered in media and praised in the press as “the most useful platform, which would help you to see who is backstopping the companies getting contracts with the State”.
The journalist Natalia Porubin mentions that the access to information of public interest is deficient in Moldova, and this application helps those who need to document cases of corruption in the field of public procurement. “I had in my practice only about 3 cases when I obtained the full set of requested information, while me and my colleagues have carried out over 50 investigations in this field. This portal was much awaited and is very necessary”. Natalia thinks her work brings impact: “People start not to tolerate corruption cases anymore; they signal (report) them, but I consider that this is not enough. It is necessary for more people to find out about openmoney.md, to access it and to report cases of fraudulent use of public money and to make pressure on decision-makers that such cases to be opposed”.
“It is an innovative solution for getting citizens actively involved in reporting corruption and encouraging the authorities to fight meaningfully this phenomenon. And that’s why I promote it during all trainings that I conduct for journalists and other categories of public. We - the journalists from the Journalist Investigations Center – use it for documenting corruption cases, as it helps us to identify different irregularities and to get subsequently deeper and more insistently into the matter”, says Cornelia Cozonac, the Chairperson of the Journalist Investigations Center.
The investigation journalist and the Deutsche Welle correspondent in Chisinau, Vitalie Calugareanu, notes that this tool makes his work much easier and it is of real use for potential foreign investors, who have now the possibility to verify very rapidly the integrity of potential partners from the Republic of Moldova. “I was surprised by this extremely comfortable tool, especially with the automated generation of connections among companies and persons, and the possibility to adjust the complexity of the search. And all these in conditions when until now, we, the journalists, had to pay to get (only partial) information about companies (not about persons) to the Chamber of the State Registration. I consider that we should make this platform more known and promote it. If we feel some restriction of liberties in this country, this website is like a mouth of fresh air for us”.
The story of OpenMoney does not stop here. It will continue to get improved based on the feedback from the users, to be filled in with new data sets, such as register of NGOs, register of pharmaceutical companies, register of educational institutions, and data about members of political parties / donors. Follow us for new details.