New online tools to shine light on public spending
Corruption in public spending wastes taxpayers' money and erodes trust in governments. The EU-funded project DIGIWHIST aims to make public procurement more efficient and transparent with online tools that use big data and empower citizens to report abuses.
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Every year, public bodies in the EU spend EUR 2 trillion on works, goods and services. Taxpayers deserve to know their money is being spent as efficiently and effectively as possible. Corruption can increase the cost of government contracts by as much as 25 % and compromise widely supported public goals, such as building safe roads or quality school buildings.
DIGIWHIST is developing interactive websites, apps and software to enable wider scrutiny of public spending. This includes a database of public procurement data in Europe. The database, hosted online at opentender.eu, gathers together information from 35 EU and neighbouring countries.
The project has collected data on public procurement and accountability from the target countries. These data are linked to information on companies and public bodies to provide a clearer picture of how contracts are awarded and to whom. The information on companies that win public tenders includes financial and ownership data.
The project is also developing risk indicators and assessment tools on public procurement and legislation. These tools flag up when an organisation or individual could be awarding contracts unfairly.
The European Public Accountability Mechanisms database is hosted online at europam.eu. It measures how comprehensive a country’s legal framework is in ensuring administrative transparency and accountability. Country profiles include indicators for political financing, financial disclosure, conflict of interest restrictions, freedom of information and public procurement.
DIGIWHIST will bring benefits both at local level and across the EU. Journalists, NGOs, researchers and the media will be able to access procurement data to investigate potential misuse of public money and the context in which it is occurring.
Government officials in charge of procurement will be able to see how effective anticorruption measures are and benchmark performance against other countries. Companies will be able to check that tenders are conducted properly, giving them greater confidence in the system.