In Response to State Procurement Agency’s Statement
We would like to respond to the criticism of the report on public procurement published by Transparency International Georgia that was expressed by the head of the State Procurement Agency (SPA) at the press conference held on 26 December.
1. In its statement, the SPA was referring to a specific period when the state carried out simplified procurement. However, the referred period was outside our reporting period. Specifically, in its statement, the SPA cites the data regarding simplified procurement as of December 2017, according to which the share of simplified procurement in the total public procurement is 22 percent. The period included in our study is different and covers the time between 1 January 2015 and 30 June 2017. Correspondingly, our report presents the data only for the previous full year (2016) – 37 percent and we can only welcome if this indicator decreased to 22 percent in 2017. We call on the SPA to provide the public with the precise information for the period covered by our study.
2. The SPA does not consider it a problem when a multimillion contract is signed with a newly established company (including companies established after a tender is announced), since this is not a violation of the law. In our report, we never state that this is a violation of the law. It is a problem, however, that contracts of particularly high value are being signed with inexperienced companies. Such contracts could entail corruption risks, which is why they require special attention.
3. The SPA does not consider it a problem either when public procurement contracts are signed with companies which have made donations to political parties as this certainly is not a direct violation of the law. Our report also makes this very clear, but it points at high corruption risks and the need for the relevant state and investigative agencies to look into these cases.
4. The SPA also notes that the fact that the information about simplified procurement made by some agencies does not appear in the procurement system is a technical flaw inherited from the past years. We strenuously disagree with this statement since we have been talking about this problem for years now, yet it remains unsolved. It is incomprehensible that a technical problem could be so complex that it could not be fixed for over two years and could only selectively affect a few agencies (the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Government Administration and others). We have discussed this issue with the previous leadership of the SPA that created the electronic procurement system and operated it until 2013. They, too, have categorically denied that such a flaw existed when they were in charge.
We call on other relevant state agencies too to familiarize themselves with the facts cited in our report, to provide the public with accurate information and consider the presented recommendations. Transparency International Georgia is ready to continue providing the SPA and other interested bodies with comprehensive analysis of the state of affairs in public procurement. We hope that constructive cooperation between us will continue in the future.