Organized by the World Bank and co-sponsored by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the “E-Procurement Forum: Enhancing Public Spending” was conceived to facilitate the sharing of country experiences in public procurement performance measurement. It also aimed to develop and agree on a common set of performance indicators and to take action to set a baseline for all countries against the agreed indicators and their annual updates. The Forum gathered 84 participants from 36 countries and eight development organizations, far exceeding expectations.
The Forum provided a great opportunity to address the needs of both internal and external clients. It constituted a major achievement in implementing the Bank’s E-Procurement Strategy for the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) Region and in mainstreaming E-Procurement as a form of transformational engagement within the Global Governance Practice. In this context, the Forum had a strong impact on the development of follow-up business opportunities for the Bank to assist ECA client countries in areas such as E-Procurement, open contracting, data analytics, and citizen engagement. For example, the Forum resulted in an ongoing discussion of multiple activities regarding E-Procurement assistance and Reimbursable Advisory Services in countries across the region, including the Balkans, Central Asia, and European Union (EU) member states.
The Forum agenda also fit within the Bank’s broader goals of good governance enhancement and increased prosperity, which call for the more sustainable management of public resources, including those delivered through current public procurement systems. A positive shift from a strictly legal compliance-oriented approach to a more performance-driven model is taking place in many countries worldwide, as public procurement policy makers and practitioners come to the conclusion that compliance per se, without pursuing better performance levels, does not serve the ultimate goal of providing the best service to citizens.
The organic approach to identifying and agreeing on a set of practical transparency and performance indicators is an excellent example of how capacity-building was achieved. A two-step methodology was put in place to obtain each participant’s views on the list of priority indicators. First, each panel moderator identified five or six indicators—based on the presentations delivered and the dialogue with peer panelists—that they considered the most relevant for beginning the measurement/collection process in the short term and grouped them under one of four categories. Second, all discussion groups were invited to examine the list of indicators (the sum of the inputs collected from the moderators of the six sessions) and select two indicators per category. No country- or organization-based representation mechanisms were used in this process and random seating allowed for an intermingling of participants in terms of countries and/or affiliation, ensuring that the results reflected the individual opinions of every roundtable participant.