The Integrity Pact: A tool that enhances transparency in the field of procurement and public contracting

Most of the sources of information confirm that TI-Rwanda has achieved significant progress in the fight against petty corruption. However in spite of this progress, problems persist in grand corruption especially in the public procurement process. In order to fill the gap of lack of information on the extent of grand corruption in Rwanda, Transparency International Rwanda started to tackle the existence and manifestation of such corruption, with the objective of  helping the Government of Rwanda’s initiatives related to increased transparency and accountability in public procurement and subsequently in the fight against corruption in this sector.

It is in that framework that at the beginning of 2012, Transparency International Rwanda (TI-RW) kicked off the implementation of a new instrument in fighting corruption and enhancing transparency in the field of public contracting - the Integrity Pact tool.

What is Integrity Pact?

The Integrity pact is a tool that sets out rights and obligations to the effect that neither the procuring

entity nor the bidders will pay, offer, demand or accept a bribe or collude with a bidder or competitors to award or obtain a contract. It consists of a process that includes an agreement between a Government institution or department (procuring entity), hereinafter referred to as the authority, and all bidders for a public sector contract. In practice, the tool is in the form of an agreement between the public institution and bidders participating in public contracts defining the rights and obligations of each party with provisions of sanctions to impose in case of violation of contractual terms. It was developed to help businesses and civil society intent on fighting corruption in the field of public contracting and procurements.

It is part of the bidding documents and is signed and submitted along with the bidding documents by the bidder himself or his authorized representative. With this agreement, the bidders and the public

institution commit themselves to avoid all forms of corruption by following a system that is fair, transparent and free from any undue influence/prejudiced dealings prior to and during the implementation of the contract in order to :

  • Allow the public institution to obtain the desired contract at a reasonable and competitive price in conformity with the defined specifications of the works;
  • Enable the bidders to abstain from bribing or any corrupt practices in order to secure the contract;
  • Provide assurance to bidders that their competitors will refrain from bribing and other corrupt practices;
  • Ensure the commitment of the public institution to prevent corruption in any form by their officials through following transparent procedures.

The Integrity Pact in Rwanda

The Integrity Pact was introduced in Rwanda on the initiative of TI-Rwanda, after seeing the positive impact generated by this tool; it has been implemented in many countries.

This tool was introduced in the form of a pilot project in four Districts “Huye, Kayonza, Musanze, and Rubavu where two infrastructure projects in each district were identified and selected for monitoring.

The idea of the implementation of the Integrity Pact had three major reasons;

  • Huge budget is allocated to procurement in the infrastructure sector, around 56% of the annual budget, there is a high risk of possible occurrence of corruption in that field;
  • A study carried out by TI-Rw in partnership with the coalition ”Situation Analysis for Contract Monitoring in the Infrastructure sector in Rwanda” reveals that corruption in the infrastructure sector is very high;
  • TI-Rw also, through the ALAC centers, receives several complaints submitted by citizens related to corruption in the public procurement.

TI-Rw started by introducing the tool to the Government of Rwanda, the private sector, the civil society organizations, and other institutions involved in public contracting which include: Rwandese Association of Local Governments Authorities (RALGA), Private Sector Federation (PSF), Association des Entrepreneurs du Batiment et Travaux Publics (AEBTP), Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA), Rwanda Association of Architects (RAA) and Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) and also concerned districts where the pilot project was to be implemented. The tool was readily welcomed by all these actors. After the introduction of the Integrity Pact in the Rwandan society, the recruitment of the Independent Monitor followed.

The role of the Independent Monitor

The uniqueness of the Integrity Pact is the monitoring system and the role of the independent  monitor. The two elements are crucial for the Integrity Pact success. Without the monitoring system, the advantages created by an IP may not be realized. The monitor scrutinizes the process closely and guards the implementation and enforcement of the Integrity Pact. He ensures credibility by reassuring both the authority and the bidders that the process will be carried out as agreed.

In Rwanda, the monitoring is carried out by an external person with the necessary experience in both Procurement and infrastructure sectors. He participates in all stages of each tender validation of designs, bids opening, bids evaluation and recommendation of contract award and contract execution.

The Impact of the Integrity Pact to the beneficiaries

Since its introduction, the Integrity Pact has realized any good results and has had an impact on different persons and institutions.

The Districts

TI-Rwanda, in collaboration with the districts concerned, chose two projects to be monitored. The choice of the two projects in the districts selected had similar considerations:

  • A third party monitor (considered by the district as  a witness) in the procurement process is an added value in terms of transparency and accountability. Thus the public will be aware of the procurement processes and most importantly, the procurement process will be done according to the law.
  • The independent monitor gives his expertise during the process; opening of the bids, evaluation of bids and contract awarding. This adds more transparency to the procurement process and less suspicion of malpractices.

The local population; Beneficiaries

After sensitization on the intent of the integrity pact, the local population started to play a key role regarding the monitoring of the chosen projects. They became more responsible on contributing to the procurement process and the feeling that the government projects were not their concern has started reducing.

The bidders

The bidders readily welcomed the instrument; one of them said ‘’For the two projects selected we didn’t find any case of corruption or favoritism”. Bidders said that with the integrity pact, they were sure that the tender would be awarded to the best competitor and not to the most corrupt.

According to the bidders, the Integrity Pact creates confidence and trust in decision making processes at the districts. Basically the integrity pact brings a more conducive investment climate. Bidders recommend the application of the tool in all procurement processes at national level.

During the implementation of the integrity pact, TI-Rw encountered some challenges such as:

  • The number of selected projects is too small compared to tenders awarded by the District annually, around 60-70 and its scope may not be sufficient;
  • Some of the selected projects were cancelled and replaced by others in the course of implementation of the Integrity pact tool;
  • The Integrity Pact contract encountered some delays in the implementation of the projects, especially due to the Districts’ budget constraints;
  • The project tool is new - it is only one year old. Therefore, stakeholders are not yet fully acquainted with it.

Recommendations

After a year of implementation of Integrity Pact, TI-Rw came up with some recommendations for the next financial year:

  • Increase the number of tenders to be selected under IP project to have significant results;
  • Advocacy to RPPA to train bidders on preparation of bids and contract management;
  • The Districts have to pay attention during bids evaluation and report the cases of forgery or other fraudulent practices early to RPPA for appropriate action;
  • Strengthening the infrastructure unit by increasing the number of staff or sourcing an external consultant (individual or a firm) for the project design and studies instead of using District staff who are already overloaded with other work and sometimes do not have enough knowledge on the particular project;
  • Advocacy to RPPA to harmonize the IP contract with the procurement regulations, especially on enforcement of sanctions to bidders;
  • The District should plan for and select the project for which budget is available.

More upcoming activities

TI-Rw is a member of the coalition in the monitoring of public contracts in infrastructure (created in 2011 under the support of the World Bank Institute). The coalition brings together different institutions in different fields which include the Public Sector, the Private Sector, civil society, RALGA, PSF, AEBTP, RPPA, RAA and RGB. In September, the coalition carried out a social audit with all members where the integrity pact projects are being implemented in the four districts. The objective of this social audit was to have the perception of the population on the integrity pact and to know exactly what would be their role during the implementation.

The coalition is currently working with Transparency International Kenya (TI-Kenya) on the social audit. It is in that framework that from September 25th to 28th 2013, a delegation from Kenya visited the districts where projects are being implemented and later met the coalition members.

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