In a powerful recognition to the Baltic anti-corruption movement, the joint proposal by Transparency International (TI) chapters in Estonia and Latvia, Ministry of Justice of Estonia, School of Data in Latvia and Open Knowledge Estonia, aiming to harvest open data for early detection of conflicts of interest in public procurement, makes it to the final of International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Anti-Corruption Challenge.
An evaluation panel consisting of 17 IMF and external expert judges had to make a difficult choice between over 120 proposals from country authorities, civil society organisations and IMF staff from over 30 countries around the world. The challenge is organized by the IMF Innovation Lab (iLab) in partnerships with numerous organizations and departments, including IBM Research.
The Estonian-Latvian proposal seeks to cross datasets from the business register, political party funding register and public procurement register of both countries in efforts to build a platform called Opener that would redflag potential conflicts of interest.
“The proposal addresses anti-corruption from three different angles: harvesting and advancing the state of open data, taking advantage of IT solutions to automate the detection of potential conflicts of interest, and improving data literacy through use cases from the application,” explained Carina Paju, Executive Director of TI Estonia.
“Just like the world in general, corruption has become more globalized. In order to be really effective, anti-corruption initiatives have to cross borders and really take advantage of the technological opportunities that are disposable to us,” said Liene Gatere, Director of Delna, the Latvian chapter of TI.
As a tool, this could be used by the law enforcement, journalists, NGOs and any other watchdogs to make sure our policy-making is transparent and free of undue influence. In future, new datasets from more countries can be added.
“Opener is an innovative step in the world in increasing the transparency of public sector activities, ”said Mari-Liis Sööt, Head of the Analysis Department of the Ministry of Justice. “This is a logical and necessary continuation of our recent transparency-enhancing activities, such as the e-training on corruption and conflict of interest and the risk-assessment e-environment for local governments created in cooperation with TI Estonia,” added Sööt.
“It is important to understand that this kind of projects can only be created when high-quality and well-structured data is accessible to all. The fact that in the context of a digital state focused on e-services and business this particular idea was born in the civil society has symbolic significance,” underlined Maarja-Leena Saar, Member of Board of Open Knowledge Estonia.
All 8 teams who made it to the final will be invited to bootcamp in Washington, D.C. during which ideas are refined, stakeholders mapped out, and project plan designed. Three best pitches will receive seed funding of up to 50,000 USD, project support by the iLab and sponsors, and will be accepted into the iLab Accelerator Program.
TI Estonia – Carina Paju, +3725072500, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ministry of Justice of Estonia – Maria-Elisa Tuulik; Maria-Elisa.Tuulik@just.ee; +372 5981 3170
Open Knowledge Estonia – Maarja-Leena Saar, xx, email@example.com
TI Latvia / Delna – Liene Gatere, +371 22115772, firstname.lastname@example.org
School of Data in Latvia / Datu Skola – http://www.datuskola.lv