Research projects

Over the last few years, GTI has worked, either as an organisation or individually its team members, for globally relevant institutions such as the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Commission, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the UK’s Department for International Development, and Hivos of the Netherlands. We have also participated in research projects with top research universities such as the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, or University College London. Moreover, our engagement with civil society has been continuous in the last few years including partners such as the Open Contracting Partnership or Transparency International.


Project examples

Curbing corruption in development aid-funded procurement (Funding: UK-DFID:ACE, 2016-2019)

GTI Director, Mihály Fazekas, is the co-Principal Investigator and GTI is the official consortium partner in two successive research projects called ‘Curbing corruption in development aid-funded procurement’ funded by the Department for International Development Anti-Corruption Evidence Programme. Related research projects in this funding stream, among others, are SOAS/ACE, Informal Governance, and Islands of Integrity. This research project has been collecting, standardizing, cleaning public procurement datasets from donors such as the World Bank and matching them up with national public procurement data from diverse countries such as Paraguay, Uganda, or India. Our research analyses how procurement can be manipulated for corrupt ends using the prize-winning ‘red flags’ methodology developed by Mihály Fazekas analysing the data to identify suspicious patterns and trends, by procuring entity, supplier, and over time. In addition, we test a series of anti-corruption interventions’ effectiveness in reducing corruption risks such as using electronic procurement to increase market competition.

 

DIGIWHIST (Funding: EU Horizon2020, 2015-2018)

GTI has been a consortium member of the EU-funded research project called DIGIWHIST. DIGIWHIST collected and republished public procurement data from 32 jurisdictions in Europe. This involved data source mapping and annotations as well as indicator development, compiling and evaluate micro-level data using information from individual public procurement transactions and winning firms’ finance and ownership structures.

This data is linked to information on aggregate asset and income declarations data in order to detect potential conflicts of interest in the system of public procurement, and more specifically, to identify systemic vulnerabilities in the respective legislations and their implementation. Besides collecting, standardizing, and republishing more than 17 million public contracts, the team also worked on defining, validating, and analysing tender level corruption risk, transparency and administrative capacity indicators (see Open Tender). Thanks to generous seed funding from the Open Society Institute for Europe, the data collection, data cleaning, and indicator calculation work could be continued beyond the completion of DIGIWHIST.

 

Detecting cartel risks in public procurement data (Clients: Hungarian, Swedish Competition Authorities, 2013, 2016, 2018-2021)

GTI developed complex indicators to detect collusion risks among bidding firms in public procurement using detailed contracting and bidding data. Working for competition authorities across Europe such as the Hungarian or Swedish Competition Authorities led to the development of such a comprehensive and flexible measurement framework. Some of the most recent results not only fed into investigations in Sweden, but they also produced innovative, new collusion indicators applicable to a wide range of countries.

Currently, this project is further extended by a recent research grant from the Swedish Competition Authority for testing a set of general cartel screening methods which have the potential to be effective in different, large-scale datasets, in Sweden and across Europe. As we currently lack a comprehensive understanding of how different cartel screens perform in different contexts, this 3-year project will develop and test a comprehensive set of cartel risk indicators using proven cases. The resulting indicators will be applied to discover new cartels in large datasets, in Sweden and across Europe.

 

Red Flags of Corruption Risks in Romanian and Polish Public Procurement Data (Funding: Open Society Institute for Europe, 2015-2016)

GTI compiled and processed Polish and Romanian administrative data on public procurement contracts from the EU’s Tenders Electronic Daily website and build a database from them in order to develop indicators indicating corruption risks in public procurement contracts. These data and indicators are made public on the ro.tendertracking.eu and pl.tendertracking.eu websites.

 

Quantitative corruption analysis in Tanzania (Funding: EPSRC Global Challenges Research Fund; Client: University of Oxford, 2016-2017)

Using publicly available data on public procurement contracts in Tanzania, a free software tool, R-Instat, is developed to help social scientists, local journalists, civil society organisations and other interested agents to uncover corruption patterns. GTI is responsible for data collection, data cleaning and data analysis and indicator development in this ongoing project. See the data publication here.

 

Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning in Latin America (Client: Open Contracting Partnership, 2018-2019)

GTI has recently been awarded a contract by the Open Contracting Partnership (OCP) to provide consultancy services regarding OCP’s strategy in Latin America advocating for the use of Open Contracting Data Standard for public procurement data. The project supports three Latin American countries, Colombia, Chile, and Mexico, to articulate their use cases and  explore why they want to implement open contracting, publish more and better open contracting information data to improve how open contracting is done, engage civil society in using the data, and measure the results of open contracting efforts.

 

The impact of transparency reforms (Client: Hivos, OCP, B Team, 2018-2019)

As there is a lack of rigorous evidence on the impact of large scale transparency interventions – such as introducing OCDS publication standards, this Hivos-OCP-B team-funded project investigates the effects of transparency reforms in public procurement and how they translate into lower corruption and increased competition using the cases of Slovakia, Paraguay, and Mexico. We aim to understand the channels through which transparency is indeed impactful – e.g. who are the stakeholders and enablers that are the actual drivers of change using increased transparency. Therefore, using before-after analysis we explore whether selected transparency interventions had any short to mid -term effects on the: i) level of competition (number of bids), ii) prices, iii) corruption risks. iv) institutional efficiency. Besides these three dimensions we also assess whether open contracting v) improves market access, vi) mitigates economic risk in procurement processes. Furthermore, we will also analyse whether transparency intervention has heterogeneous effects across region, buyer type, sector, and organisational quality. In other words, whether specific administrative features (e.g. well-staffed central government bodies vs. small municipalities) or more active stakeholders influence the effects of increased transparency.

 

State capture risks in defense procurement (Funding: Open Society Institute for Europe, 2017-2019)

The project aims to analyze state capture risks in the field of defense procurement among EU member states in 2009-2017 and to identify effective anti-corruption policies. We combine qualitative and quantitative research approaches to overcome research challenges in the defense sector, namely the low level of transparency due to specific procurement regulations. We build a database using TED and national public procurement data sources, while corruption risk indicator development will be combined with advanced network analysis and in-depth case studies. These methodologies provide validation of statistical results and a deeper understanding of defense spending and anti-corruption policies which work in controlling corruption in defense procurement. Building on our analytical work, we publicly release the data and indicators, develop an interactive online tool, and hold workshops and presentations to share findings with a wider audience.