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The Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) has won a Government Innovation Award for a pioneering project to ensure openness in government business transactions. The award is for its initiative to collaborate with civil society and business to use open data sources make information about the country’s public procurement system more accessible, transparent and accountable to the public.

The award was recently announced in London following the Open Contracting Innovation Challenge, a competition run by the Washington, DC-based Open Contracting Partnership and the London-based Open Data Institute. It is funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

The competition recognizes groundbreaking data-driven ideas for improving public procurement. The Innovation Challenge honors original ideas for managing, analyzing, and monitoring how the government procures goods and services, as well as cutting-edge approaches to publishing what is procured, when, from whom, and for how much. An international panel of seven experts used the following criteria to evaluate entries:

                    i.            Potential for impact

                  ii.            Innovation

                iii.            Use of open data

                iv.            Sustainability

                  v.            The team

In total, 88 teams from 40 countries and every continent responded to a series of questions around how to use data to strengthen the integrity and effectiveness of public procurement.

 “We were blown away by quality, diversity, and ambition of the applications from so many incredible innovators working to make government contracting smarter, fairer and better. The prize could help to take these ideas to scale and make a huge impact on people’s lives everywhere,” said Gavin Hayman, Executive Director of the Open Contracting Partnership.

As winners of the Government Innovation Award, BPP will receive mentoring and expert support to accelerate the progress and execution of its innovation, which is the first-ever unified public procurement approach, the Nigerian Open Contracting Portal or NOCOPO. The portal will publish open data from over 750 government agencies to the Open Contracting Data Standard. It will improve transparency to prevent corruption, enhance active citizen participation and feedback towards achieving better service delivery and increase ease of doing business in Nigeria.

In addition to the innovation from Nigeria, the judgesalso selected six outstanding ideas from Mexico, Malaysia, Ukraine, the UK and Czech Republic to go into the running for the Grand Prize, who came together in London, 28-29 June 2017 to receive specialist advice and plan the incubation phase.

Finalists from the non-government sector each received $5,000 in prize money to further develop their projects. The final pitch for the Grand Prize of $30,000 will be in September 2017. Winners in the various categories of competition and the Grand Prize winner will be honored at Open Contracting 2017, a global meeting for open contracting innovators from around the world to be held in Amsterdam in November 2017.

Commenting on the development, the Director-General of BPP, Mamman Ahmadu, said: “The award indicates global appreciation of the country’s commitment to transparency and accountability in its anti-corruption drive. Given that public procurement is a tool for good governance, Nigerians should expect an improved public procurement system to have a huge impact on the nation’s recovery from economic recession in quick time.”

Nigeria’s involvement in the Open Contracting initiative began in May 2016 at the London Anti-Corruption Summit, at which President Muhammadu Buhari committed the country to actions to deepen the administration’s Anti-Corruption Reform. Part of commitments made by Nigeria under Public Procurement and Fiscal Transparencythematic area was to “worktowards full implementation of the principles of the Open Contracting Data Standard, focusing on major projects as an early priority.”

Following a letter of intent from the Attorney General of the Federation, Nigeria joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in June 2016. Once it was designated the lead agency for the implementation of the initiative, BPP has since facilitated and participated in meetings on Open Contracting in Abuja, Paris (France) and Kaduna.