In 2014, a CSO in Nigeria implemented a financial accountability initiative to improve health system outcomes through strengthened infrastructure.1 Taking advantage of the Freedom of Information Act, the Public-Private Development Centre (PPDC) tracked expenditures for procurement in the construction of 40 Primary Health Care Centers (PHC Centers) by the Nigerian Primary Health Care Development Agency. To do this, the PPDC team formed a unique collaboration with a university, procurement specialists, and a newspaper. As the technical support partner, the Pan Atlantic University helped to organize budget data from multiple sources. Data journalists from the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism analyzed the data to determine the value for money in the procurement process. The PPDC published the information on an open procurement platform called Budeshi. Finally, the PPDC partnered with procurement monitors to visit PHC sites to monitor and match up construction status with financial records.

Through this process, PPDC discovered that only 36 percent of expenditures that were set aside to build new facilities resulted in operational facilities. They also found that funds budgeted to build new PHCs exceeded the amount that was contracted; while this initially may appear to be a case of cost savings, only five of the seventeen new PHCs with the largest 'savings' (of 33 to 54 percent) were operational, indicating that the funds may have been misused. Tracking these funds, PPDC found that the winning bid of 26 contracts was all of the same amounts. This suggested either that the companies had coordinated on the bidding amount or, more likely, that they are all contracted to the same company under different names. According to Nigerian law, bidders must participate in open and competitive tendering, and this initiative uncovered evidence that competitive tendering may have been compromised. The initiative found that the government construction of PHCs was at best extremely inefficient and at worst suffered from corruption and collusion.

After PPDC shared the results with the Nigerian government and in conjunction with the Health Minister announcing the construction of 10,000 new PHCs, the Nigerian government has pledged to use open contracting in new procurement. PPDC also received a grant from donors to continue the development of the open contracting platform, Budeshi, to continue this type of civil society-led monitoring.

References:

  1. Making the Case for Open Contracting in Healthcare Procurement [Internet]. Making the Case for Open Contracting in Healthcare Procurement. Transparency International; 2017 [cited 2019May]. Available from: http://ti-health.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Making_The_Case_for_Open_Contracting_TI_PHP_Web.pdf