Organization of American States (OAS) & Inter-American Network of Government Procurement (INGP)
Public Procurement Coordinator Program (OAS), Technical Secretary of the Inter-American Network of Government Procurement (INGP)
Helena Fonseca serves as Public Procurement Coordinator Program at the Organization of American States (OAS), and Technical Secretary of the Inter-American Network of Government Procurement (INGP) since 2017. For more than 12 years, Helena has supported OAS Member States in strengthening institutional capacities through regional cooperation projects related to public management to promote transparency, efficiency, integrity, and sustainability in government procurement; e-government; and the fight against corruption. Author of the regional study “Towards a Culture of Integrity in Public Procurement” (in Spanish -2020-) and reviewer of numerous regional studies on government procurement. Through her professional experience Helena has served as a cooperation channel and facilitator to meet country demands and achieve regional goals.
Previous the OAS, she worked for the National Anti-Corruption Unit of the Attorney General's Office in Colombia.
Helena has a great sense of service and is a builder of networks and trusting relationships. Believer that integrity is the backbone of society to achieve development and social equity.
Helena has a master’s degree in Government and Public Management for Latin America of the Barcelona School of Management, Pompeau Fabra University; and she is a Colombian Lawyer with a specialization in Administrative Law of the Sergio Arboleda University.
What is your professional background and how did you become involved in the world of commerce and contracting?
Since the beginning of my career, within the OAS, I have worked on central matters for the promotion of transparency, integrity and institutional strengthening of governments around the Americas, where I have succeeded consolidating my technical expertise related to the design, execution and monitoring of regional cooperation projects; as well as political awareness skills to engage High-level authorities and build technical capacities to specialists in public procurement.
Throughout this path I have lead relevant actions which have contributed to the achievement of important results as Technical Secretary of the INGP such as (i) the consolidation of the Network as the main regional forum and community of practice for cooperation; (ii) settlement of the INGP as a reference for global procurement networks; (iii) worldwide promotion of Latin American and Caribbean procurement practices; and (iv) elevation of public procurement as a strategic area to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
Furthermore, due to my commitment and contributions, public procurement topic was featured as a key area in the highest regional political fora such as the Eight Summit of the Americas - Document of Lima on Democratic Governance to Combat Corruption-; and the OAS General Assembly who recognized the INGP as an hemispheric technical cooperation mechanism within OAS Member States.
Covid-19 has illustrated the critical importance of helping women to realise their professional aspirations - what role have you played or are you currently playing within your organization to support women in their roles?
As a part of the actions taken to promote local economy and the participation of women in the awarding of emergency contracts caused by COVID-19, I am currently supporting, as INGP's Technical Secretary, the consolidation of a sustainable public procurement ecosystem composed of international/multilateral organizations, public and private sectors and civil society, in order to raise awareness; promote inclusive public policies; and build technical capacities to foster the implementation of social, environmental and economic criteria in public procurement in the region.
This initiative has a strong focus on women as business leaders to achieve more inclusive and sustainable economies through public procurement, as a strategy to transform the way the State contracts and to whom it awards contracts. It will also contribute to demonstrate the impacts and benefits of contracting triple-impact companies lead or staffed in majority by women, especially MSMEs, qualified to become state providers.
Also, I am exploring new projects to work on forging coalitions between governments and women’s associations to increase the participation of women in the design and implementation of legal frameworks for open and inclusive public procurement and its implementation in pilot countries to promote the purchase of products or services produced, provided, or distributed by women.