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On September 24th and 25th, 2011 an unprecedented collaboration will take place between the United States and Russia.The Skolkovo Foundation, Google and Yandex, within the framework of activities under the US-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission, are jointly hosting a bilateral codeathon in Washington D.C. and Moscow. They will bring together software engineers and programmers from Russia and the United States for a 2-day programming marathon. The goal is to use technology to address challenges of openness, transparency and accountability in both countries.

Please work with us to define the challenges that programmers in both Russia and the United States will attempt to solve in September.

What are the obstacles to transparency in your city, region or country? Is there a Web-based or mobile solution that could help? How can ordinary citizens use new technologies to make their governments more open? Please describe your idea here.

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Марафон программистов, запланированный на 24-25 сентябрь 2011 года, станет примером беспрецедентного сотрудничества между Соединенными Штатами и Россией.  Фонд «Сколково», компании «Google» и «Яндекс» в рамках мероприятий двусторонней Российско-Американской Президентской комиссии совместно проведут двусторонний марафон программистов, который пройдет одновременно  в Вашингтоне и Москве. В ходе двухдневного марафона программисты и разработчики из России и Соединенных Штатов будут работать вместе с целью использования технологий для решения проблем, связанных с открытостью, прозрачностью и подотчетностью органов власти в обеих странах.

Мы приглашаем Вас к совместному определению проблем, которые программисты из России и Соединенных Штатах постараются разрешить в сентябре.

Каковы барьеры на пути к прозрачности органов власти в Вашем городе, регионе или стране? Существует ли эффективное решение на основе Интернет или мобильных  технологий? Каким образом рядовые граждане смогут использовать новые технологии с тем, чтобы их правительства стали более открытыми? Пожалуйста, опишите Вашу идею здесь.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Matthew Murray September 20, 2011 at 9:36 pm

The objective of this “problem definition” is to help render Russia’s electronic system for public tendering, found at http://zakupki.gov.ru, more fair, transparent and user-friendly for Russian citizen entrepreneurs and less vulnerable to corruption and fraud. This challenge could be approached from three different directions:

1. First, develop an “application”, “search mechanism” or other tool to help Russian citizens and business to use the portal http://zakupki.gov.ru consistently and effectively to participate in the electronic tender process. Specifically, focus on improving the auction process in a sector where the Russian government intends to spend a significant amount of public funds, such as innovation to increase energy efficiency. The tool should help a Russian entrepreneur who has invented a new energy efficiency technology use the portal to identify specific opportunities to sell the technology to a Russian federal, regional or city government agency or state-owned enterprise. This system should help the entrepreneur search the portal, identify specific opportunities and participate in tenders in the energy efficiency industry throughout Russia.

2. Second, develop an “application”, “search mechanism” or other tool to help Russian citizens, businesses and civil society organizations analyze the terms of electronic tenders on the portal http://zakupki.gov.ru to ascertain whether there is fraud or corruption in the design or execution of the tender. For example, this tool should help identify electronic tenders that may include specific design parameters for goods that can only be supplied by one supplier that has been “pre-selected”. It should help identify tenders where such pre-selection also leads government authorities to issue price terms for goods that are significantly above the market price. There are numerous examples of such fraudulent tenders that have been identified and stopped by civil society organizations.

In addition, participants in electronic auctions are able to use electronic tactics to exclude other bidders for public procurement. One method reportedly used is to hide information about state procurements by replacing Cyrillic letters with identical-looking English letters in the title of the tender, thereby making it impossible to search for the tender by its title. In such cases, only the bidder tipped off by the purchaser would know the correct combination of letters necessary to locate the tender and gain a guaranteed win.

3. Third, develop an “application” or other tool that helps Russian businesses that lose electronic auctions on the portal http://zakupki.gov.ru due to corruption or fraud defend their legal rights. For example, under Federal Law “No 94-FZ “On the Placement of Orders for Delivery of Goods, Fulfillment of Works, Rendering of Services for Government and Municipal Needs” (2005, amended 2007, 2008), the government customer is obliged to cancel the contract in the event that it is established that there has been elimination of competition in the auction. To enforce this legal right, citizens and businesses should have an application or tool that provides them access to information about how enforcement works in practice, e.g., how to file a complaint with court, assure the complaint is heard and acted upon quickly before the tender goes forward. In addition, this application or tool could help victims of rigged tenders find examples of how other entrepreneurs have successfully defended these rights.
This tool could also provide the citizen or business with quick access to the list of “unscrupulous suppliers” maintained by the Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service.

Reference Materials for this Problem Definition:

(i) The “Goszakupki Portal” at http://zakupki.gov.ru.
(ii) The website of the Russian Institute for Development of Freedom of Information at http://www.svobodainfo.org/en/node/459
(iii) The Register of Dishonest/Unscrupulous Suppliers available at http://rnp.fas.gov.ru.
(iv) Federal laws governing government public procurement, public auctions, access to information, and information technology, as well as protection of competition and protection of information, including Federal Law N 94-FZ “On the Placement of Orders for Delivery of Goods, Fulfillment of Works, Rendering of Services for Government and Municipal Needs” (2005, amended 2007, 2008).
(v) Federal Laws providing citizens the right of access to information on government decision-making, including N 149-FZ “On Information, Information Technologies and on the Protection of Information” (2006, amended 2011).
(vi) http://www.rospil.info/

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