Nurgali Rakhmanov is the head of the NGO Digital Society and a graduate of the Policy Research School (PRS), an initiative of the USAID-funded Social Innovation in Central Asia (SICA) program. For years, Nurgali has been interested in the public procurement system. In 2021, he stumbled upon an ad in social networks calling for applications to SICA’s Policy Research School.
While studying public procurement at PRS, Nurgali saw that the acute lack of researchers in the public procurement field leaves a ‘vast scope of data’ out of the public eye. This is how the idea of creating a free public procurement course for university students entered his mind. Nurgali spent a year researching public procurement and thinking about drafting a course for university students. He was worried about whether local universities would accept his idea, as he believed staff might fear associating with course that teaches students to monitor and think critically about the state. Nurgali approached the Almaty University of Energy and Communications faculty with a proposal to launch an undergraduate course. “I was at once relieved and enthralled when the university’s staff said they were keen to give the project the green light,” he smiles.
Nurgali hopes that a new generation of specialists will help the country “make a leap forward” in enhancing its transparency standards.
“Kazakhstan wants to join the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), where one of the main requirements is compliance with the OECD standards in the field of accountable management and transparency of the public procurement system,” Nurgali shares. “Due to the shortage of specialists in the sustainable development field and the immaturity of the institutional framework for sustainable development, state authorities and national companies have not yet managed to introduce these standards into the public procurement process. That is where I see my role.”
Continuing his project within SICA’s PRS, Nurgali also studied public procurement in the school construction field. He identified a pattern of high-risk, potentially corrupt tenders with notably inflated prices. In response, he created a rating system to determine the effectiveness of school construction procurement processes. The Kazakhstan Association of Building Materials Industry saw high potential in Nurgali’s rating system and asked him to join the working group of Atameken, Kazakhstan’s National Chamber of Entrepreneurs, as an expert in public procurement. Nurgali will now develop a new Law on Public Procurement, which will help ensure the quality control of goods, labor and services purchased at the lowest price.
Nurgali believes that public understanding of procurement mechanisms is a must-have for countries that want to eliminate corruption. He hopes to launch similar courses in other Kazakhstani universities. “I believe in my mission to implement OECD standards in Kazakhstan’s public procurement system. Only this way can we make a step to enter the top 30 most developed countries in the world,” he concludes.
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