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Transparency Isn’t about Gaming the System.


October 31, 2014

Doug Hadden

Many international donors do not provide transparent information about forward budgets making it difficult for recipient countries to properly plan budgets or coordinate development. A study by Publish What You Fund, “the information on forward budgets is still patchy, limited in scope and published in hard-to-access formats.”

As noted on twitter, some donors believe that publishing forward budgets encourages corruption. The thinking is that officials in recipient countries will notify “friends” about upcoming aid projects. These “friends”, it is thought, will be inappropriately positioned to capture these projects. In other words, gaming the system.

I object strongly to the notion that transparent processes introduces more corruption risks than opaque processes. Opaque processes ensures that there is a much smaller set of players that are “in the know.” Publishing forward budgets increases competition because organizations have time to investigate country needs, find local partners, and determine risks.

I can’t tell you how many times that FreeBalance has encountered procurement cycles that are so short that we can’t evaluate risks like capacity, corruption and political will. My sense is that many credible vendors find risks too high and elect not to bid. Other credible vendors are likely to take the risk of preparing a proposal, under the assumption that competitors are unlikely to take the risk. And, these vendors add a buffer to the quoted price for protection.

In short: transparency increases competition, reduces prices, ensures higher value proposals AND limits the perverse effects of small groups of elites who have early warning.

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Doug Hadden

Doug Hadden

Executive Vice President, Innovation at FreeBalance
Doug is responsible for identifying new global markets, new technologies and trends, and new and enhanced internal processes. Doug leads a cross-functional international team that is responsible for developing product prototypes and innovative go-to-market strategies.

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