Shedding Light on Projects Through Contract Transparency

OpenAidMap: “In all countries, whether rich or poor, contracts are at the nexus of revenue generation, budget planning, resource management and the delivery of public goods. Open contracting refers to norms and practices for increased disclosure and participation in public contracting at all stages of the contracting process.
There are very good reasons for making procurement processes transparent. Public posting of tender notices and “requests for proposals” helps support free and fair competitive bidding – increasing citizen trust while also improving the likelihood of securing the best possible supplier. Once procurement is finished, public posting of contract awards gives important assurance for citizens, development partners, and competing companies that procurement processes are open and fair. Increasingly, open contracting in procurement transparency through portals like this one is becoming the norm for governments around the world. There is also a global initiative at work to establish a common standard for contracting data….
With so much momentum behind procurement transparency, there is an untapped opportunity to leverage data from public procurement processes to provide operational insight into activities. Procurement data can help answer two of the most important questions in project-level aid transparency: (1) Where are projects taking place? (2) How much money is being invested at each location?
Take an example from Nepal. Consulting the government’s aid management system yields some basic, but already useful, information about a particular transportation project. This type of information can be useful for anyone trying to assess patterns of transportation investment in the country or, for that matter, patterns of development partner financing….
Open contracting data have intrinsic value for transparency and accountability. However, they also have significant value for planners – even those who only care about getting greater insight into project activities. At the moment though, contracting data are too difficult to access. While contracting data are increasingly becoming available, they are often posted on stand-alone websites, in diverse data formats and without structured access. By standardizing around a core contracting data format and accessibility approach, we can unlock the potential to use contracting data at scale not only for transparency, but also as an effort-free addition to the arsenal of available data for project-level planning, coordination, and accountability. The utility could be even higher if combined with performance and results data.
When developing any public data standard, there are opportunities and risks. For open contracting data, there is a huge opportunity to make those data equally relevant for project planners as for those more purely interested in transparency and accountability. The pilot conducted by the Open Aid Partnership and AidData has explored this potential for overlap, yielding key insights that we hope can be used in the future development of an open and broadly relevant open contracting data standard.”