With thousands of procurement processes taking place every month, and hundreds of spending transactions by governments every day, it is effectively impossible to audit every one of them manually for signs of corruption. But with structured open datasets, large-scale analysis can be carried out on a rolling basis
A common approach is ‘Red Flag Analysis’. Here, a set of indicators are designed, that can be assessed either using a single dataset (e.g. procurement data), or a collection of joined-up-datasets (e.g. company registers, asset registers and spending data). Software is created or configured to then read through incoming data, and analyse activities against potential indicators of corruption. When a certain threshold is hit, users of the system will be notified by alerts, or through a dashboard, that there are cases in need for deeper investigation. This red flags approach does not prove corruption is taking place - but they highlight areas which may, statistically, be subject to higher corruption risk. This can help in targeting scarce investigatory and enforcement resources.
The Open Contracting Partnership has been leading work to develop a common framework of red flags, and to assess which fields from the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) are required in order to be able to detect certain corruption risks.
Case study: Open Contracting Red Flags Framework
In “Red Flags for integrity: Giving the green light to open data solutions”, the Open Contracting Partnership have identified a range of metrics that can be calculated from Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) data on public procurement processes in order to surface corruption risks. The study identifies “a set of over 150 suspicious behavior indicators, or “red flags” [that] occur at all points along the entire chain of public procurement-from planning to tender to award to the contract, itself, to implementation-and not just during the award phase, which tends to be the main focus in many procurement processes. “By building on standardised open data, tools built around these metrics can be more easily applied to datasets from different countries.
Example Red Flag -> OCDS DAta Standard mapping
The Anti-Corruption Open Up Guide