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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.