FINALIST: OCDex: An Open Contracting Analytics Research Platform for Business Intelligence and Stakeholder Monitoring of Philippine Government Procurement

Ask questions for the OCDex: An Open Contracting Analytics Research Platform for Business Intelligence and Stakeholder Monitoring of Philippine Government Procurement project here!

OCDex: An Open Contracting Analytics Research Platform for Business Intelligence and Stakeholder Monitoring of Philippine Government Procurement
Layertech Software Labs, Inc, Philippines

ABOUT: From 2018-2020, Layertech led Project OCDex, an inspection of Philippine procurement data to inform stakeholders of government procurement and contracts. Official public procurement data released (PhilGEPS) is collected and automatically pre-processed, processed, visualized, and analyzed to detect procurement red-flags, inefficiencies, and monitor details of contractors and contracts awarded. Pre-processed data is released for local researchers to conduct in-depth inspection and studies.

The project published a Procurement Analytics Handbook (compilation of methods and studies using OCDex data), and three peer-reviewed research papers on the impact of OCDex:

  1. In informing HIV/AIDS advocacy,

  2. In automatically detecting bottlenecks in the procurement process, and

  3. In informing local businesses bidding strategy, and encouraging them to join government procurement to reach optimal bidding conditions.

Learn more about this project on the World Justice Challenge website.

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Thank you for inviting us here, Frei. Wishing OCDex team the best of luck!

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I think we should invite the researchers/authors of studies (the Uni partners) as well. A major part of the project is because of their continuous support and use of data. :slight_smile:

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Hello! Thanks for your presentation at last week’s regional showcase. I was wondering, given the rule of law situation in the Philippines, what were some of the challenges you faced in launching this project? Do you receive any backlash from government entities?

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Hi JayaK,

Thank you for listening to our presentation in the showcase.

Yes, definitely! But I think this is something that happens a lot not only in the Philippines but in many parts of the world.

We experienced (and still experiencing) challenges on various levels:

  • Especially in the beginning of the project, we are a relatively young team (around 20s) and introducing a relatively ‘new technology’ has its initial barriers. There were still spaces’ which are not welcoming to young people interfering in ‘serious’ matters such as monitoring government contracts. Breaking this initial bias was challenging. We had some people telling us things like : “I’ve been working on this for xx years and who are you to tell me that what I’m doing is wrong?” And how do you argue with that? Especially in some local cultures where seniority is a big and serious thing?

  • Since we are technically ‘flagging’ contracts and transactions, the initial response of some people was to question the scientific credibility of the findings. How do you explain to them that what the AI flagged was reliable?

  • It was initially difficult to engage with the concerned local governments and national government agencies, by ourselves, since we are primarily an R&D tech organization and not so much an expert on the engagement and policy side.

However, we were fortunate to have received support from various transparency champions, very open and active local governments, and we were supported by Hivos under their Open Up Contracting Programme sometime 2018-2020, which then lead us to closely engage with different concerned government offices, stakeholders, and other champions working on open government and transparency. That really got the ball rolling, and now, we are cosely engaging with various partners and even volunteers.

Our strategy was to engage the ‘low hanging fruits’ first, that’s why we really focused on willing local government units (LGUs). From there, we scale to other willing organizations, institutions and LGUs. Slowly but surely.

It was also helpful that we have the support of business organizations, since they are also naturally interested in the analysis of procurement data. And, to a certain extent, they have a powerful voice in local government decision making.
And as for the ‘scientific credibility’ we started working closely with researchers, universities, and we published peer-reviewed reports and findings to ensure scientific accuracy of our calculations and solutions.

Finally, we are investing in information dissemination campaigns on the use of Data Analytics for inclusive and effective decision making. As ambitious as this may sound, we really want our partners to understand what we are doing instead of just being fascinated by tech terms like ‘Machine Learning’ and ‘Data Analytics.’ We are always engaging local governments, National Government Agencies, and try to present to them the benefits of using tech tools in their operations. We have a lot of joint webinars on these! :slight_smile:

These little steps and elements really helped strengthen the project and our engagement arm. Having all these partners on-board, is what I think, really made the project impactful.

That said, platforms like OGP actually bring stakeholders together for a more inclusive dialogue, so we really make it a point to be as active as we could with these platforms.

Thank you and please feel free to look at our published/pre-print reports and findings! :slight_smile:

Frei

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Yes, I agree that multi-sector partnerships are crucial to promoting rule of law. Thanks for all your great work and best of luck in the Challenge!

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!! Hi Frei … congratulations for all the work done with your team … you have my full support !!

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interesting project! It is very important to have a system to monitor public resources and better manage people’s needs

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Thank you so much! Please feel free to visit our findings :slight_smile:

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Hi Alex,

Thank you for the dropping a comment. Agree with you. Please feel free to look through our documentation and resources :smiley:

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Hello Ma’am Frei and OCDex team. First of all, thank you for engaging local researchers and supporting science and data-backed government decision making. We need critical thinking and scientific more than ever. How do small researchers like us contribute?

Can I ask you to elaborate on the role of scientists and researchers for open governance? It seems that many leaders do not follow scientific evidence. How do we overcome this and how can ocdex project promote this especially in municipalities with very low appreciation for science and education?

Thank you and godbless to the ocdex team and network.

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Congratulations Frei and OCDex Team!

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Congratulations! Best of luck Frei and OCDex Team.

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Thanks for inviting me here. Wishing OCDex Team the best.

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Congratulations OCDex Team!

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Hi Maris!

Thank you for your participation! And please don’t call yourselves ‘small researchers’! In fact, we believe that local researchers have the most context-expertise in your own locality. Because you truly understand what’s going on in your local government, that you can craft better, more relevant, and more realistic solutions, insights, and findings!

As a researcher myself, I really think our participation in the science and tech field is critical, especially now that we are living in the digital age and many of our key activities and day-to-day lives are entangled with tech! Many policies and practices need to be updated in order to keep up with the advances of science and tech. Its about time we really make a stand and use our knowledge and expertise for our communities.

As for the appreciation, it is difficult, but for as long as we keep on doing what we could and show others that ‘it works’. Just like in any scientific theory we have, no matter how absurd, if it accurately predicts nature, then we accept it. Same with tech. If it works, it works. And of course, collaboration with other sectors is key! That’s the very reason why we created OCDex in the first place— because we want researchers, analysts, programmers, to have a platform, use our expertise, to hold governments and suppliers accountable. :slight_smile:

Thanks and we hope to receive your research/tool submission in OCDex! :smiley:

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Thank you for your support! :hugs:

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Thanks for supporting! :hugs:

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Thank you Ms. Frei. We will submit our latest study on process efficiency discovery very soon. Stay safe.

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Hi everyone. Thank you for this recognition. It means a lot to us, specially in the TechDev team! More improvements and insights to come from us. And let us also recruit more partners in the network.

  • Steph
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