World Bank to launch procurement app

A man uses a tablet. The World Bank will soon release a mobile application that will provide users access to procurement data from 2004 to 2014. Photo by: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

The World Bank plans to release this week a mobile application that will give users access to comprehensive procurement data from 2004 to 2014.

The new app, which is being rolled out amid an ongoing controversial procurement reform process within the institution, aims to provide more transparency and accessibility to donors and recipients. Once downloaded, the app will be fully functional offline, allowing those in the most remote places full access, according to Joao Veiga Malta, practice manager at the bank’s Governance Global Practice.

“What we wanted to do was to be able to provide you the procurement information that the bank had with an easy reach [so] that you did not necessarily need a masters in statistics in order to be able to do an analysis,” he said Wednesday during a panel discussion on procurement at the bank’s annual meetings in Washington, D.C.

The app, Veiga Malta explained, will show the distribution of awards by country and can be organized by civil works, goods, consulting services and nonconsulting services. Users can search by fiscal year, economic sector, donor country or recipient country, and will be able to see graphs, pie charts, ratios, trends and rankings. As procurement data come in, it will automatically become available in the app, allowing users to see data well beyond 2014.

But the new app doesn’t come without its share of concerns.

First, so far it’s only available for iOS users. Second, the app doesn’t show all procurement data — at least to begin with. Billing notices, for instance, have been left out, and users can’t search awards by firm. Veiga Malta says his team will soon begin working on an Android version and the data issue very soon.

Despite its apparent shortfalls, development professionals at Wednesday’s panel were largely pleased with the concept of a World Bank procurement app, and waiting to see if it will meet their expectations.

Check out more practical business and development advice online, and subscribe to Money Matters to receive the latest contract award and shortlist announcements, and procurement and fundraising news.

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    Jeff Tyson

    Jeff is a global development reporter for Devex. Based in Washington, DC, he covers multilateral affairs, U.S. aid and international development trends. He has worked with human rights organizations in both Senegal and the United States, and prior to joining Devex worked as a production assistant at National Public Radio. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations and French from the University of Rochester.