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A Data Mining Approach to Detecting Bias and Favoritism in Public Procurement

Yeferson Torres-Berru1,2,*, Vivian F. Lopez-Batista1, Lorena Conde Zhingre3

1 University of Salamanca, Salamanca, 37008, Spain
2 Instituto Tecnológico Superior Sudamericano, Loja, 1101608, Ecuador
3 Universidad Internacional del Ecuador, Loja, 1101608, Ecuador

* Corresponding Author: Yeferson Torres-Berru. Email: email

Intelligent Automation & Soft Computing 2023, 36(3), 3501-3516.


In a public procurement process, corruption can occur at each stage, favoring a participant with a previous agreement, which can result in over-pricing and purchases of substandard products, as well as gender discrimination. This paper’s aim is to detect biased purchases using a Spanish Language corpus, analyzing text from the questions and answers registry platform by applicants in a public procurement process in Ecuador. Additionally, gender bias is detected, promoting both men and women to participate under the same conditions. In order to detect gender bias and favoritism towards certain providers by contracting entities, the study proposes a unique hybrid model that combines Artificial Intelligence algorithms and Natural Language Processing (NLP). In the experimental work, 303,076 public procurement processes have been analyzed over 10 years (since 2010) with 1,009,739 questions and answers to suppliers and public institutions in each process. Gender bias and favoritism were analyzed using a Word2vec model with word embedding, as well as sentiment analysis of the questions and answers using the VADER algorithm. In 32% of cases (96,984 answers), there was favoritism or gender bias as evidenced by responses from contracting entities. The proposed model provides accuracy rates of 88% for detecting favoritism, and 90% for detecting gender bias. Consequently one-third of the procurement processes carried out by the state have indications of corruption and bias. In Latin America, government corruption is one of the most significant challenges, making the resulting classifier useful for detecting bias and favoritism in public procurement processes.


Cite This Article

APA Style
Torres-Berru, Y., Lopez-Batista, V.F., Zhingre, L.C. (2023). A data mining approach to detecting bias and favoritism in public procurement. Intelligent Automation & Soft Computing, 36(3), 3501-3516.
Vancouver Style
Torres-Berru Y, Lopez-Batista VF, Zhingre LC. A data mining approach to detecting bias and favoritism in public procurement. Intell Automat Soft Comput . 2023;36(3):3501-3516
IEEE Style
Y. Torres-Berru, V.F. Lopez-Batista, and L.C. Zhingre "A Data Mining Approach to Detecting Bias and Favoritism in Public Procurement," Intell. Automat. Soft Comput. , vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 3501-3516. 2023.

cc This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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