Public procurement in a state of emergency: how to guarantee transparency and prevent acts of corruption?

From the Network of Organizations Against Corruption (ROCC) we published a document that compiles information on what public procurement is like at the national level, in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires and the provinces of Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Mendoza and Salta during the state of emergency. In addition, recommendations are proposed to increase transparency and accountability in processes.

“Below, we offer a google translate version of the original article in Spanish. This translation may not be accurate but serves as a general presentation of the article. For more accurate information, please switch to the Spanish version of the website. In addition, feel free to directly contact in English the person mentioned at the bottom of this article with regards to this topic”.

The declaration of the health emergency in relation to COVID-19 implies facing both economic and social consequences, which impact on the use of public resources that the State has in order to meet urgent needs. Therefore, it is necessary to place special emphasis on the public procurement system in a state of emergency to publicize the traceability of how goods and services are acquired.

The publication “Public Procurement in Argentina during the state of emergency” compiles the regulatory information and information on the availability of purchasing and contracting, at the national level and in some of the provinces, including Córdoba; It also proposes recommendations for efficient, transparent and corruption prevention recruitment processes.

In general, the purchasing and contracting systems have deficiencies even during periods outside an emergency context, so it is in this type of situation that the manipulation of information and the use of extraordinary budgets can be most discretionary. When these resources are not intended for their original purposes, but diverted or misused, the rights of citizens are violated.

The Network of Organizations Against Corruption, based on the survey carried out, draws up a series of recommendations (available here) for public procurement for all levels of government carried out in the context of an emergency.

During the context of an emergency, an adequate exercise of public spending becomes particularly relevant, since otherwise it hinders and prevents people’s access to the exercise of their essential rights. It is essential to guarantee the functioning of the institutions and control systems of the financial administrations to ensure the correct use of public funds. In this way, public procurement systems must tend to satisfy the greatest number of rights, be efficient in the expenditure made and transparent in all its stages.

What is the situation in Córdoba?

Córdoba declared on March 9 the state of alert, prevention and sanitary action in the detection of cases of dengue, coronavirus, measles and any other edition of disease with high sanitary and social impact that may cause outbreaks and epidemics that affect or may affect the province of Córdoba, and adhered on March 18 to the public emergency in health matters declared by the national state through decree No. 260/2020 for a period of one year from March 12, 2020.

For the purposes of crisis management, the government of the province of Córdoba created the “Fund for the attention of the state of alert, prevention and health action for epidemic diseases” and for the purposes of the operation of this Fund, Córdoba referred to the measures that in 2015 and 2016 were arranged to deal with the massive floods that occurred in various towns in the province, at which time a “Permanent Fund for Disasters” was created.

In terms of purchasing and contracting, Córdoba did not issue specific rules that regulate the procedures that are carried out during the emergency period. As far as law 10,155 is applied, which enables in its article 10 direct contracting in the event of “existence of manifest urgency and / or imperative need in the contracting of a good or service”, which is why most of the contracting carried out during this period they have been under this modality.

To access the specific recommendations of the province of Córdoba click here


Nina Sibilla, ninasibilla@fundeps.org