“I am working on a project Public Procurements of Slovakia for Transparency International. Requirement was to try to extract number of offers within a tender. I did, however it was strange: majority of number of offers were 1 per tender/contract. I was convinced that the value in document is something different that we are expecting and stared to persuade TIS that we do not have the value they want.
After couple of weeks, I’ve created couple of reports with the value, despite fact that I was sure that the report is wrong. Gabriel Sipos and his team from TIS started investigation and talked to Public Procurement Office. It turned out that the value is correct and is what TIS expected it to be: it is number of offers per contract. And yes, in Slovakia average was around 1,9 average number of offers per contract. After the finding I’ve created proper reports with all suppliers and all procurers, which had very interesting results. For example, ministry of Justice of Slovak Republic had 7 contracts for around 5,6m € total, with just one offer per-contract. And it looks like it is correct.
What I wanted to say is, that it is nice that programmers are scraping data and trying to visualise them. However, they may miss important points or might ignore interesting information just because it looks weird and unreal to them, as I almost did. Role of NGOs in this case is domain experts – the ones who know the “state of the state”, the ones who know how to investigate meaning of numbers or can tell if the numbers are correct or not. Programmers might produce interesting and colorful reports, but only with domain knowledge the reports can be useful.”
This post was written for us by Štefan Urbánek from Slovakia. Thank you!