In 2015 Transparency International – Bulgaria initiated civil monitoring of the tender for design and build of Struma motorway Lot 3.1 Zheleznitsa tunnel. The public procurement procedure is of strategic importance for the country transportation system. The contracting authority is the National Company Strategic Infrastructure Projects (NCSIP).
The TI-Bulgaria initiative is a part of the “Integrity Pacts – Civil Control Mechanisms for Safeguarding EU Funds, Phase 2” project funded by the European Commission. The project is implemented by 15 civil society organisations from 11 EU Member States and coordinated by Transparency International Secretariat. For all activities in outreach and communication at EU-level, TI-S is supported by its affiliated entity – Transparency International EU Office. The duration of the project is four years (2016 – 2019).*
The general objective of the project is to explore and promote the use of Integrity Pacts for safeguarding EU funds against fraud and corruption, and as a tool to increase transparency and accountability, enhance trust in authorities and government contracting, contribute to a good reputation of contracting authorities, bring cost savings and improve competition through better procurement.
In order to foster public demand for accountability in public spending the project will aim at achieving the following specific objectives:
- Ensure integrity and accountability in 17 projects co-financed by EU Structural and Cohesion Funds,
- Ensure transparency and access to information in 17 projects co-financed by EU Structural and Cohesion Funds,
- Draw lessons from this pilot for future replication and mainstreaming of Integrity Pacts.
The Zheleznitsa tunnel project encompasses nearly 4.5 km of the Lot 3.1 of Struma motorway. The time limit for the contract implementation, including design and construction, is 1400 days. Estimated cost of the project is 250 000 000 Bulgarian levs (approx. 125 million euro). The project is implemented under Operational Programme “Transport and Transport Infrastructure” financed under the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund.
Within the preparatory phase of the project TI-Bulgaria and NCSIP signed a Memorandum of understanding (available in Bulgarian) in order to arrange the implementation of the Integrity Pact within the tender for design and building of Zheleznitsa tunnel.
Pursuant amendments of the Roads Act as of April 2016, the Road Infrastructure Agency (RIA) is designated as assignee of the NCSIP. With the conclusion of the Addendum (available in Bulgarian), RIA publicly engaged themselves with the Integrity Pact in the role of Contracting Authority.
Transparency International – Bulgaria has conducted independent civil monitoring over all tenders for Zheleznitsa tunnel since 2015. For the results from our observations, please refer to Publications page.
The monitoring of the procurement procedure, announced by the Road Infrastructure Agency with Decision no. 115/17.10.2017 will comprise all stages of the tender from the preparation, through offers assessment and selection of contractors, to the implementation phase.
* In 2019 the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy of the European Commission (DG REGIO) decided to extend the implementation of the initiative by another two years, to December 2021. Transparency International – Bulgaria team intends monitoring of the procedure until the end of construction.
The “Increasing Integrity through Advocacy: Counteracting Corruption in Public Contracting” project is a three year initiative of Transparency International – Bulgaria, which was implemented in 2011 – 2014. It was funded by the Integrity Initiative of the World Bank and Siemens. The Integrity Initiative provides support to organizations worldwide that are active in the fight against corruption and fraud through Collective Action, education and training.
The project of the Bulgarian chapter of Transparency International was aimed at corruption counteracting in the area of public procurement in Bulgaria and was focused on the implementation of an innovative anti-corruption tool – Integrity Pact.
The main goal of the initiative was to increase the standards of integrity and transparency of the implementation of contracts of significant public interest through change of the national policies. By implementation of the project Transparency International – Bulgaria aimed to facilitate:
- Fostering conditions for the development of a coherent anti-corruption policy of the Bulgarian government;
- Increasing the opportunity for participation of private sector companies in anti-corruption initiatives;
- Development of plans for civil society monitoring over the effects of anti-corruption measures introduction;
- Focusing public attention towards the problem area and consolidating public support for similar initiatives.
In 2011 Transparency International – Bulgaria developed a Bulgarian Integrity Pact Model, which is consistent with the national legislation. In 2012 – 2014 TI – Bulgaria applied this anti-corruption tool in a variety of public tenders.
An outcome of the evaluation of the impact from the pilot implementation of Integrity Pacts in the country is the manual Indicators for Transparency and Integrity under Public Procurement Procedures.
Contribution of the Bulgaria IP model is the establishment of a White List which provides transparency in the activities of contracting authorities and public procurement tenderers. Through maintenance of the White List, TI-Bulgaria intend to encourage businesses who have expressed and adhere to their public commitment to ensure publicity and transparency of their activity.
During implementation of the civil monitoring of the public procurement procedures, TI – Bulgaria issued a number of monitoring reports which comprehend all stages of the observed tenders, that is preparation of the tender and documentation, bidding and awarding procedure and contract implementation. The reports are available at Publications page (in Bulgarian language).
The results and inferences from the project were presented to business, public authorities, civil society and media during a number of workshops carried out at the final stage of the initiative.
Improvement of the Transparency of Public Procurement with High Public Interest in Bulgaria: Monitoring of „Trakia” Highway (2009 – 2011)
Within this initiative the Bulgarian chapter of Transparency International monitored the procedure for contractor selection and implementation of the contracts for construction of Lot 2, Lot 3 and Lot 4 of the “Trakia” highway. The “Trakia” Highway, which is a part of two Trans-European corridors – corridor no. 8 and corridor no. 9 and is one of the most significant Bulgarian infrastructural projects in the last years.
The goal of the project was to lower the risk of embezzlement of public resources and curb the derogation of public interests through establishment of standards for publicity and increase of the transparency level in awarding of contracts related to deals of substantial public interest in Bulgaria. Therefore, in the focus of the project was the amplification of an effective approach for civic participation and public control as regards to procedures involving public funds spent.
One of most significant deliverables of the project is the elaborated Methodology for independent civil monitoring and assessment of deals of high public interest (publication is available in Bulgarian language). The methodology for monitoring was approbated in the observation of the tender procedures for awarding the contracts for the “Trakia” highway. The handbook provides for a broad range of instruments applicable for civil monitoring as well as for journalistic anti-corruption investigations, thus contributing to the necessary background for multiplying of the positive effects of the initiative.
The monitoring was conducted based on the Cooperation Agreement signed on October 6, 2009 between TI-Bulgaria and the Ministry for Regional Development and Public Works. Further, in early 2010 a Contract for Monitoring regulating rights and obligations of both parties was concluded. TI-Bulgaria received the status of an independent observer.
The monitoring of contracts execution was conducted with the support of four non-for-profit civic organisations based in the regions near the construction sites of the “Trakia” highway – in Stara Zagora, Nova Zagora and Sliven.
The main conclusions form the observation along with experts’ analysis and recommendations for improvement of the public procurement procedure were compiled in the Publicity and Transparency in the awarding and implementation of projects of substantial public interest report.
The project of the Bulgarian chapter of Transparency International was implemented between November 2009 and February 2011 with the financial support of America for Bulgaria Foundation.