Launch of Open Procurement Transparency Portal

Launch of Open Procurement Transparency Portal, July 5, 2018

Thanks Mexhide and good morning everyone.  I’m so pleased to be here today.  This is really my favorite kind of event.  Because as much as we focus on fighting corruption, we don’t always have the opportunity to see the tangible progress we’re making in that fight.  But today we do.

This new Transparency Portal is a big step forward.  It takes the power of information and makes it as easily accessible as the phones in our own pockets.  The Portal makes valuable information about procurements available to the public and is a critical part of our larger efforts to bring greater transparency and openness to public procurement all across Kosovo.  And we’re really looking to this new portal to be a game changer in helping Kosovo’s citizens act as watchdogs in the way that public dollars are competed and spent.

Genuine procurement reform is the key to so much Kosovo is trying to accomplish – in improving service delivery at the local level and in creating necessary trust between the people and government of Kosovo.  It’s also critical to creating a level playing field for the private sector.  So much of Kosovo’s future development depends on private sector-led growth, and while individual businesses may need to take risks, they thrive in stable, transparent environments, bound by the rule of law.

The same goes for attracting foreign investors, who will need assurances that their rights and interests will be protected in Kosovo before placing their capital on the table.

Creating a business-enabling environment and reducing vulnerabilities to corruption in the public sphere is not a simple task, – but it is urgently needed.  And a big part of getting this done means real, long-term cooperation between government entities and civil society.  That’s essential, and I want to thank Safet Hoxha and his team at the PPRC for setting a good example of what that cooperation looks like by actively helping our partners such as Levizja Fol collect data from the PPRC’s servers to populate the Transparency Portal.

The Portal shows us the power of technology in creating an open society.  Whether it’s the Official Gazette or the Legislative Tracking System, more and more of Kosovo’s citizens have access to information critical to their communities’ and their own well-being.  Technology can be transformative, but it doesn’t do the work for us – it’s only as powerful as the people who harness it.  So beyond government, beyond civil society, and beyond journalists, Kosovo’s citizens must transform new information into knowledge, and knowledge into action.

You must now get the word out that these changes and advances are happening, to help people become more active, engaged citizens.  Otherwise this great new portal is just a repository for data, instead of the catalyst for civic action that it’s meant to be.  So to all the CSOs and journalists present, help spread the word and get your fellow citizens involved.  Use this information to increase accountability, monitor procurements, and track and expose corruption in public procurement.

And one more thing.  Today is a milestone achievement in your efforts to promote transparency in public procurement in Kosovo, and we, through the USAID grant that helped make creation of the Portal possible, are extremely impressed by the potential returns on this investment.  But, it’s absolutely not the end of the story.  There’s more than one way for citizens and civil society to help safeguard public procurement from corruption, and we want to hear from you.  So keep coming up with the innovative ideas and initiatives that will help transform public procurement in Kosovo into the open and effective system we all need it to be.  Everyone in this room has a vital role to play.

Thank you again to Fol and to the PPRC for making today possible.  I’m looking forward to seeing the Portal in action.