Prebases is the regional benchmark for modernisation in procurement, which promotes citizen participation in the planning of strategic and high-impact procurement procedures. In an innovative, open, unique and replicable way, it provides benefits to more than 9 million inhabitants by creating a space for citizen listening and participation, as well as the 90 purchasing units by strengthening their planning, contracting better products and obtaining savings for Mexico City (CDMX).
Prebases is the initiative that provides a space for the presentation and review of strategic public procurement projects where citizens, organisations and companies can comment, give their opinion and suggest adjustments to the proposed bases of public tender procedures. The Prebases module arises from the need to improve market studies and strengthen technical documents for the procurement of goods and services that, due to their nature, impact or technological progress, are not well known by the requesting area.
During 2020 and 2021, the Digital Agency for Public Innovation provided strategic support for the renovation and expansion of the Ecobici system run by the Ministry of Mobility; this support made it possible to carry out the first pre-base discussion exercise, which improved the planning of the project and resulted in a saving of 54% of the initial budget at the awarded price. Due to the impact and success of this project, the Agency decided to develop a tool to replicate the exercise through an open and collaborative forum for the discussion of the planning documents of the different agencies, entities and municipalities of the CDMX, giving rise to the Prebases module.
To carry out the design and creation of the tool, the ADIP conducted several interviews with citizens, members of civil society organisations, suppliers and public servants responsible for procurement procedures, based on the design thinking methodology, to identify needs, additional or desirable functionalities and possible risks for the construction of the tool. Meetings were also held with those responsible for the Ukrainian public procurement system Prozorro, in order to have an empirical reference of the implementation of a tool for discussion of procurement planning documents, which served as inspiration for the creation of the Latin American model.
On 4 February 2022, the first Tianguis Digital Prebases discussion procedure was published; from February to date, 8 procedures have been put up for discussion, obtaining more than 850 interactions and allowing access to suppliers registered in the City's Register of Suppliers, and to all civil society organisations and citizens who have a CDMX key account.
The direct beneficiaries of this initiative are the more than 9 million inhabitants of Mexico City, who thanks to the strengthening of the technical annexes, bidding bases and planning documents for public procurement, can receive more quality goods and services; they can also actively participate in the planning of strategic and high-impact purchases made by the government. On the other hand, Prebases facilitates the administrative work of the 90 units responsible for spending in the CDMX by strengthening their market studies and obtaining direct information from suppliers, experts and citizens for the construction of technical annexes and bidding documents, which translates into the acquisition of efficient and quality goods and services; in addition, this initiative is sustainable because it does not require extra financial resources for its operation; and it is managed and operated by the human resources assigned to the ADIP.
In terms of replicability, Prebases is built in open source and free software, which facilitates its transfer and adoption by other local and even international governments, opening the way for other administrations in Latin America and the world to strengthen the planning of their public procurement directly with the help of citizens.By 2023, the aim is to double the number of discussion procedures and increase by 25% the number of interactions carried out by suppliers, civil society organisations and citizens.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
Prebases is an innovative initiative because it is the first platform in Latin America through which it is possible for citizens, civil society organisations, suppliers, and government to participate interactively in the discussion and elaboration of planning documents and bidding bases for the City's strategic or high-impact procurement procedures. This tool strengthens transparency, accountability, and modernisation of public procurement, which helps in the transition to an open government, where citizens and government collaborate to achieve more efficient and better planned procurement, encouraging the acquisition of quality goods and services and promoting greater competition in tendering procedures. Prebases is the new digital tool that transforms the way public procurement is planned.
Collaborations & Partnerships
The partners of the initiative are citizens, civil society organisations, public servants, companies, and international organisations. For the co-design and ideation, the partners were suppliers, no profits, and citizens who, through interviews, helped to identify the needs and priorities of the tool. Among the collaborators, the Open Contracting Partnership should be mentioned as they donated 20,000 USD so that the company Glass could develop the tool according to the requirements identified.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
Citizens, civil society organisations, and suppliers: They actively participate in the planning of the procurements of their interest, while being informed about upcoming tenders to which they can apply.
Public servants: Better knowledge of the market and of the supply of goods and services, strengthen the technical annexes and the bidding bases, promote competition and therefore procurement has a greater cost-benefit and resource savings are obtained.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
Since its launch in February 2022 to date, the planning documents of 8 procurement procedures of four different spending units have been discussed, receiving more than 800 comments, suggestions and questions. In addition, those responsible for the procedures have integrated 39 comments issued by citizens, civil society organisations, or suppliers for the preliminary documents and technical annexes of their procedures, ensuring that citizen participation is important and heard in this type of exercise. Finally, the Prebases module has been consulted more than 500 times. It is expected that next year the number of processes under discussion will double and the number of interactions between suppliers, civil society organisations and citizens in the discussion of planning documents will increase by 25%.
Challenges and Failures
One of the most important challenges faced by the Prebases initiative during its implementation has to do with the dissemination and knowledge of the tool. Since the Prebases discussion exercise is a new and proactive process that is not contemplated within the stages of a traditional procurement procedure, few units are aware of the tool and use it. Further, the dissemination of the initiative through social networks and government communication media has been limited. Given this situation, the Agency has sought to contact strategic allies that wish to carry out this type of exercise and has contacted suppliers on the register via email so that, in accordance with their business line and procedures, they can participate in the discussion on Prebase. In addition, the Agency has sought promotion with other national or international organisations, applying for awards and calls for proposals that provide this projection.
Conditions for Success
For the success of this strategy, it is indispensable that there are responsible spending units (URGs) willing to actively carry out this type of exercise, as well as citizens, suppliers and civil society organisations interested in actively participating in the construction of the City's procurement planning documents.
In technological terms, the implementation of the tool requires development and maintenance. However, Prebases is a digital tool that was developed in open source and free software, so it can be donated and adapted by other interested governments, saving design and development costs.
In terms of human resources, the initiative requires active staff such as back end and front end developers to maintain the platform and a user administrator to manage the uploading of information from the different URGs and provide solutions and response to the platform's users.
To date, eight months after the launch of the Prebases discussion strategy, the tool has not been replicated in other governments. However, as it is built in open source and free software, the application can easily be replicated and even donated and adapted to administrations that wish to implement this type of exercise that strengthens citizen participation in public procurement procedures. The potential for replicability of the tool is high, whether for local or even national governments. Currently, the Digital Agency for Public Innovation is in contact with the state governments of Sonora and Tamaulipas to donate various technological tools that it is in charge of, including the Transactional Public Procurement System "Tianguis Digital" and the Prebases initiative.
Promoting transparency, innovation, openness and citizen participation in procurement procedures through various strategies, initiatives or tools is a task that improves the performance of any government, democratises procurement and favours the transition towards open government.
Betting on strategies such as Prebases Discussion will always provide more benefits than challenges to public administrations, which is why the Digital Agency for Public Innovation, in order to improve the management not only of Mexico City, but of the entire region, seeks to promote developments and projects that can be replicated, donated and adapted to different contexts.
Prebases is the module of Tianguis Digital, which promotes citizen participation in the planning of strategic and high-impact procurement procedures for the CDMX, but it is expected to be the tool that will transform the way public procurement is planned throughout Latin America.F6.