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The SOL-ution for Smart Community Procurement

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A case Study: Brazil

SOL is the Portuguese acronym for Online Bidding Solution (“Solução Online de Licitação”). SOL is a GovTech solution for community-level procurements carried out under community-driven development (CDD) projects, and it addresses the procurement challenges that the communities usually face.

Piloting SOL in selected projects in Brazil showed the app’s potential to increase the efficiency, transparency, and governance of the procurement process. The app facilitates the connection between community associations and their suppliers and automates the full procurement process. In addition, as all procurement data is generated and safely stored in the app, the app enhances the audit capacity of governments and the World Bank.

Problems and Objectives: Community-driven development (CDD) in Brazil faced challenges in procurement processes, such as limited competition, paper-based workflows, and mistakes in procurement documents. The SOL app emerged to address these issues and enhance the capacity of communities to conduct procurement efficiently. The project aimed to scale up the adoption of open-source electronic procurement software for CDD projects in Brazil and Latin America, fostering a collaborative community for software maintenance.

Solutions and Approaches: The SOL app, developed by Brazilian states, covers all CDD procurement steps, replacing paper-based processes. It automates bidding notices, requests for quotation, and contract signing, reducing errors. SOL enables communities to manage procurement electronically, notifying suppliers automatically and providing real-time information. The app’s features include Automation, Integrity, Integration, and a Monitoring dashboard. Notably, SOL is open-source, allowing collaboration for maintenance and improvement.

Digital Solutions: The SOL app, a web-based and mobile application, was developed as custom software with World Bank funding. It launched in July 2019, costing $150,000. Being open-source, its code is available on GitHub, ensuring sustainability through collaboration. Blockchain technology was integrated for data security, making transactions transparent and resistant to tampering.

Results: Since its launch, SOL has successfully impacted community procurement. Over 1,300 associations and 2,600 suppliers registered, resulting in 3,293 contracts valued at approximately $15 million. SOL facilitated faster, safer, and more efficient procurement, benefiting both community associations and suppliers. The app’s blockchain technology enhanced transparency, data integrity, and security. It proved particularly useful during the COVID-19 pandemic by allowing remote project activities.

Lessons Learned: Capacity building was crucial for successful implementation, considering communities’ weak digital capabilities. The open-source and blockchain features contributed to scalability and reliability. The user-friendly interface played a significant role in the app’s success, simplifying complex procurement procedures.

Next Steps: Other Bank-financed projects in Brazil and beyond plan to adopt SOL. Upgrades and translations will make SOL a global public good. Customization and integration with legacy systems make it adaptable for various CDD projects worldwide. Scaling up and fostering a community of SOL users on GitHub ensures continuous development and sustainability.

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