[OpenSpending] Lessons learned from Mexico's procurement process

Julia Keserű jkeseru at sunlightfoundation.com
Thu Mar 12 20:02:17 UTC 2015

FYI everyone:

OpenGov Voices: Lessons learned from Mexico's procurement process
by guest author Oscar Montiel <https://twitter.com/tlacoyodefrijol>

   - technology <http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/technology/>

MARCH 9, 2015, 11:03 A.M.
[image: A smiling Oscar Montiel.]Oscar Montiel of Codeando México.

When it comes to information technologies, most governments are usually
unable to solve their technological problems in-house, and often rely on
service providers who don’t understand the complex challenges facing public
agencies. As a result, a huge amount of money around the globe goes to
tools that are a nightmare for both civil servants and average citizens.
Also, this money is usually spent on licenses and maintenance fees, which
makes IT projects almost impossible to sustain.

The Codeando México <http://codeandomexico.org/> team is trying to tackle
this challenge through connecting government agencies with more innovative
and sustainable solutions. In 2014, we teamed up with the National Digital
Strategy coordinator within the Mexican president's office to launch the Retos
Públicos <http://retos.gob.mx/> (Public Challenges) program, an experiment
that aims to change the way Mexico’s federal government designs and
procures software.
[image: A screenshot of Retos Publicos.] <http://retos.datos.gob.mx/>A
screenshot of Retos Públicos.

The idea is simple: Any government agency can identify a problem or a tool
that will make its job more effective, then set an amount for the awarded
contract. Regardless of their previous experience in government tendering,
any small or medium enterprises (SMEs) can submit a proposal through our
platform for an open source solution, designed specifically to tackle the
challenge identified by the agency. The proposals get evaluated by a group
of experts in technology, user experience and other relevant issues, and
five finalists are selected to develop a demo for the agency. Finally, all
finalists present their ideas to the agency, which then chooses the winning

So far, eight of Mexico’s 18 federal ministries have published their calls
for bids through Retos Públicos, engaging with the thousand users who
already visited our platform. The nine calls for bids received 45 submitted
solutions, and thanks to Retos Públicos, Mexico has nine new digital tools
built on open source solutions. These include a smartphone application to
alert citizens on natural disasters
<http://retos.datos.gob.mx/organizaciones/3/retos/1-reto-alerta-mx>and a
platform for reporting corruption in government offices
[image: TheRetos Públicos team sitting around a table at work.]The Retos
Públicos team hard at work.

In the meantime, Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo Económico
<http://www.cide.edu/> is busy conducting research on Mexico's procurement
regime to make recommendations for the necessary changes in the legal
framework. In the upcoming period, we want to take Retos Públicos to the
subnational level, where IT procurements are usually accompanied by poor
access to information practices and a total lack of accountability. Through
providing an easy-to-use channel for local governments and SMEs with our
platform, Mexico might be able to turn its opaque tendering system into a
more open and fair regime. We will analyze our experience with local
governments, too, to make necessary conclusions on the legal system and to
find better ways to democratize how municipalities spend taxpayer money. At
the same time, local civic hackers will get a chance to reuse and even
improve the tools developed by other communities facing similar challenges.

For the team of Codeando México, Retos Públicos has been more than just a
tool to improve the quality of government technology. The platform raises
awareness around the importance of opening up government tenders to small
and medium enterprises, and provides strong evidence that government
openness is good for every market actor. At the same time, we have been
using Retos Públicos to build a strong community demanding further changes
in Mexico. Through this new platform, we’ve met great startups from all
around the country; students who decided they don’t want to keep building
websites to sell consumer products; amazing developers who saw in Retos a
good way to start their own business; and average citizens who were and
still are motivated to drive the kind of change they would like to see
happening in the Mexican government.

Júlia Keserű
International Policy Manager

1818 N Street NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036
(1) 202-742-1520 *246

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