Baltic joint proposal makes top 8 in global IMF Anti-Corruption Challenge

Carina Paju.
Carina Paju. Source: Private collection.

A 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, has made it to the final of International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Anti-Corruption Challenge.

"This is a powerful international recognition to the Estonian anti-corruption movement," Carina Paju, executive director at Transparency International Estonia, said.

An evaluation panel consisting of 17 IMF and external expert judges had to make a choice between over 120 proposals 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 registers, political party funding registers and public procurement registers of both countries in an effort 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," Paju said.

"It is important to understand that projects like this 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," Maarja-Leena Saar, member of board of Open Knowledge Estonia, said.

"Opener is an innovative step in the world in increasing the transparency of public sector activities," Mari-Liis Soot, head of the analysis department of the Ministry of Justice, said. "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."

As a tool, Opener could be used by the law enforcement, journalists, NGOs and any other watchdogs to make sure our policymaking is transparent and free of undue influence. In the future, new datasets from more countries can be added.

All eight teams who made it to the final will be invited to a boot camp 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 dollars, project support by the iLab and sponsors, and will be accepted into the iLab Accelerator Program.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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