Contracts, Data and Investigations: Edition 2021-05-28

This week: UNGASS on Corruption to recognize critical role of transparency during the whole cycle of public procurement, IBP's COVID-19 funds accountability survey and more stories

This newsletter gathers stories covering the use and abuse of government contracts during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Share your stories and investigations with us. We’d love to read and feature them. And we’d appreciate a like if you enjoyed the read. 

Our 50th edition is a special edition. Next week, the UN General Assembly will hold its first-ever special session against corruption. We expect public contracts – government’s foremost corruption risk – to take center stage, and the discussions could not be more urgent. The pandemic has exposed weaknesses in public procurement that put the lives of frontline workers and citizens at risk globally, as the hundreds of stories featured in this newsletter have chronicled since April last year. 

But there is a way out: we need to digitize and transform how contracts are planned, awarded and delivered, with end-to-end transparency, open data and participation at their heart. This will ensure the trillions being spent to end the pandemic and rebuild the economy will deliver better public services, goods and works for us all.

The procurement systems of the past failed during the pandemic. 187 countries will agree on a joint declaration next week that will set the priorities in the fight against corruption in the years to come. We hope this UNGASS will be remembered for its ambition to embrace a bolder and more open approach that serves governments, suppliers and beneficiaries of public contracts better. Read more about our asks.

Research into the accountability of COVID-19 funds by the International Budget Partnership in 120 countries shows almost 2 in 3 countries failed to follow transparent procurement procedures in their emergency procurement.

Canada wasn’t prepared to cope with the surge in demand for personal protective equipment when the pandemic began, after failing to address decades-long issues with managing its emergency stockpile, according to a report released by the country’s auditor general this week. 

Instagram probably isn’t your go-to source for hard-hitting investigations on government spending, but it’s where Kazakh outlet PROTENGE has found a home amid restrictions on traditional media. Check out this interview with the publication’s editor, Jamilya Maricheva, by RFE/RL’s Peter Trotsenko. 

The UK government failed to heed warnings about impending PPE shortages early last year, a major medical equipment supplier has told MPs, according to the Guardian’s Rajeev Syal.

A watchdog report offers some insight into the US defense department’s emergency spending. But redactions obscured the number and dollar figures of contracts awarded for aircraft, electronics, materials and hypersonics, shipbuilding, space operations, and soldier and ground systems, writes Lauren C. Williams for Federal Computer Week.

In Sri Lanka, questions have been raised over claims the government ordered 32 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, as details about the procurement have not been made public, according to the Daily FT. 

For our recommendations, resources and tools, check our COVID-19 resource page. This newsletter has been put together by the Open Contracting Partnership. Comments? Suggestions? Got a story you’ve written to share? Write to Georg at Thanks for reading.

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