The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) has called for open contracting in monitoring public contracts so as to reduce corruption.
Last week council members of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and Wakiso District Local Government were tipped on how and where to access information concerning public procurement to enable them to monitor government projects effectively.
The concept of open contracting is emerging as a strategy to increase contract transparency and monitoring with major expected benefits in terms of quality of governance, better value for money, reduced corruption, increased service delivery and better development outcomes.
Aloysius Byaruhanga, the director of performance monitoring at PPDA said they decided to engage political councillors because they are the ones who bring the needs of their people to government and agree on the procurement plans.
“The councillors are very critical on contract monitoring because when contracts are given out to companies to carry out government projects in an area, they also have a role to ensure that the work is effectively done and is of good quality so that the people fully benefit,” Byaruhanga said.
Matia Bwanika, the chairperson of Wakiso district expressed his dissatisfaction with the way chief administrative officers (CAOs) who are the accounting officers are appointed which he says makes it difficult for the local leaders to monitor their work.
“According to the new PPDA Act, accounting officers are now appointed by the permanent secretary of the ministry of Local Government. They are no longer employed by the district’s service commission as it used to be which means that as leaders, we have no powers over them and therefore it is difficult for us to monitor and evaluate their activities as well as demand for accountability from them,” Bwanika said.
Bwanika also added that the presidential idea of deploying UPDF soldiers to do all government engineering work including building hospitals and schools will jeopardize their work of monitoring government projects in the district because they (leaders) have no authority to discipline soldiers in case there is any mismanagement of funds or shoddy work done.
However, Byaruhanga assured that they are already engaging with UPDF to see how they are going to fit into these projects after which they will issue a circular to local governments on how they are going to implement these directives.
“We expect local governments to come out with a basic analysis on how much a certain project is going to cost and these are the figures they will give to UPDF. UPDF is not supposed to come out with its own figures on how much a project will cost and that is why there must be always market assessment before a project is accepted and those are the details we are discussing with UPDF,” Byaruhanga added.
The councillors of the two districts further appealed to the government to prioritise providing funding for monitoring of government projects in their areas so that they don’t have to depend on the technical teams’ resources which at times may compromise their work.