Guess Who’s Coming to TCamp12: The Matej Kurian Edition

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Let the countdown to TransparencyCamp 2012 continue with another edition of “Guess Who’s Coming to TCamp12″. Through this mini-series we will introduce some of the faces you’ll see at TCamp, something we hope will be helpful for attendees and a  provide a neat window into the festivities for those who can’t make it. Yesterday, we introduced you to Beth Sebian from Cleveland, Ohio. Today we are excited to highlight one of our international attendees!

Matej Kurian is the program coordinator at Transparency International Slovakia. One of his recent projects is Open Contract Portal, developed by TI Slovakia and Fair Play Alliance, aimed at increasing transparency and accountability in public spending by empowering citizens. Matej has an MA in Political Science from the Central European University. His self-reported specialties include accountability, transparency, corruption, open government, data-driven projects, and non-democratic regimes. Before joining Transparency International Slovakia, he had internships at A.T. Kearney and the Slovak Governance Institute.

TI Slovakia’s procurement and contracts websites are among the best in the world. Matej was kind enough to answer a few questions about their features, design, and impact:

 What kinds of features do your procurement and contracts sites have that others don’t?

Most of the procurement sites provide little more than a sophisticated list of contracts. We’re trying to add an analytical layer to data, essentially empowering users to run their own tests.  Open Contract Portal is to my best knowledge first of its kind in the world, I am not aware of any other country that mandates publishing of public contracts online.  

What made these sites possible, from the government and from TI Slovakia?

Government did not play any role in the projects, save for the regulatory framework that mandates that original data that we scrape have to published. Open Society Foundations funded both of the projects, Siemens Integrity Initiative funded Procurement Portal.  

While TI Slovakia did not have any previous experience with building and managing online portals, our expertise in procurement and data-driven analysis helped in designing the portal.   

Has this had any policy impact, or has it made the impact of procurement policies clearer?

While non-specialist use of the portals is still quite low, specialist groups made use of them. For example, based on the portal data Transparency argued for mandatory use of electronic reverse auctions, or had been able to compare pre-electoral spending of governments. Both of the portals contributed to debate on quality of the public data.

Join us at TransparencyCamp April 28th and 29th just outside of Washington, DC to meet Matej and other folks — inside and out of government — who are working to making our government more open, accountable, and transparent. Register today at http://transparencycamp.org — and hurry! Space is limited.

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