Project: Enhancing Accountability And Performance Of Social Service Contracts In Uganda
Sector/Issues: Education, Health, and Agriculture (Third Party Contracts Monitoring)
Executing Agency: Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC)
Grant Amount: US$ 650,000
Closing Date: December, 2018
The lack of transparency and limited public participation in government institutions severely undermine service delivery and frustrate development plans and programs in Uganda. Over the last decades, Uganda has adopted legislation to improve governance and reduce corruption, but its impact has been limited. More often than not, there is a gap between what reforms say on paper and their implementation on the ground. This creates real concerns and vulnerabilities in the use of public resources. It particularly affects government activities related to public procurement and contracting that have an estimated annual value of USD 2.4 billion.
More specifically, weak procurement systems have a negatively impact in critical sectors such as health, education, and agriculture. Medicines are often missing in health centers and staff absenteeism is prevalent in several regions. Investments in infrastructure geared towards education have been marred by corruption scandals. There is lack of accountability for funds used in the biggest agricultural program National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) that was designed to boost the income of rural households.
AFIC, a pan-African organization with extensive experience in open contracting and access to information laws, has received a GPSA grant to improve service delivery in the agriculture, education, and health sector by enhancing accountability and transparency in public procurement in five districts in Uganda. This will be done by: 1) providing training and supporting citizens to engage with government authorities, monitor contracts, and track funds in the agriculture sector: 2) strengthening a network of community monitors in the education and health sectors to provide feedback to government and ensure contracts and infrastructure projects are executed in a transparent manner; 3) leveraging resources and knowledge to strengthen the institutional Capacity of Uganda Contracts Monitoring Coalition (UCMC) to engage effectively with government authorities; and 4) documenting and sharing project tools, experiences, and lessons learned to both national and international audiences.
The GPSA grant will help AFIC attain the following results:
9 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) will be signed between UCMC and different government agencies to collaborate and enhance access to contract information.
An increase in the number of contract information accessed by CSOs in the agriculture, education, and health sector through information requests under MoUs or through the government online platform (www.askyourgov.ug).
At least 50% of technical committee meetings on contracting issues will include CSO participation.
More than 410 stakeholders will be mobilized through sensitization campaigns to participate in monitoring activities.
200 community monitors will be trained to monitor contracts and help the project attain its objectives.
35 information walls will be installed in monitored facilities to present results and inform citizens.
UCMC will experience a growth of 50% in membership over the next four years.
Outcomes in 5 districts covered:
1. The government made its procurement portal compliant to Open Contracting Data Standards, after recommendations from the project’s Monitors.
2. The national and district governments have accepted and implemented 13 recommendations from the Community Monitors to date.
3. Detailed information about 33 contracts was made accessible to citizens by the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority.
4. 476 citizens have been trained in accessing public contracting information, monitoring contracting processes and tracking funds.
5. 186 of the trained citizens work as Community Monitors who directly monitor contracts and infrastructure projects in health, education and agriculture, using monitoring tools specifically designed for the project.
More lessons will be added as they become available. However, the design of this grant benefits from the lessons learned by AFIC in developing tools to allow citizens to monitor important sectors and provide feedback to government authorities. This project will scale up this initiative to the agriculture, education, and health sector. UCMC also has nurtured good working relationships with the government when developing and implementing the platform (www.askyourgov.ug). This experience will be leveraged to ensure the success of the GPSA project.