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Joining forces to make open government stronger through open contracting

Gavin Hayman|

It is hard to imagine an open government without open contracting. Around the world citizens are demanding greater transparency and influence over how their taxes are spent. Governments have been toppled over corruption and mismanagement of resources.

This has made it vital to support the reformers in governments and civil society who are pushing for increased disclosure and engagement in public contracting and to establish more open and effective governments. Starting this year, open contracting will be the focus of a major collaboration between the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Support Unit and the Open Contracting Partnership (OCP).

There are four major areas where we are planning to work together.

First, we know that open contracting has been a major area of focus for the 69 governments participating in OGP to date. Two thirds of all countries have made individual commitments to more transparent and public public procurement. But we can and should do better. There is huge, bottom-up local energy to push governments to go beyond piecemeal to more systematic reforms. Governments need to make more effort to share accessible and useable open data on public procurement (most likely through the Open Contracting Data Standard) and better engage both companies and public interest organisations in feedback and monitoring of government contracting. On these issues OCP stands ready to work with governments and civil society organizations to maximise the use of the OGP platform.

These leads us to our second point of collaboration: We know that following up on commitments is not always easy. Especially when they require technical support in areas such as publishing open data. We have seen some countries struggling on the implementation of their existing reforms because they need technical and financial assistance to finish the job. Here, OCP is willing and able to provide support, including through a free helpdesk team (based in Open Data Services in the  UK) to answer  technical  queries, support publishers and encourage peer learning between champions from different parts of the world.

Thirdly, we will work together on joint research and learning. We will share interesting stories and evidence of success (and failure) to ensure that good ideas spread, and provide the ammunition needed to reformers to win their own internal battles on opening up government to citizens. We will also ensure that the national researchers for OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) have the training and information they need to effectively evaluate open contracting reforms. The latest progress reports from the IRM released in the past three weeks provide a valuable guide to howgovernments are doing on opening up their contracting.

Finally, we will partner on communications and outreach products. We will work together around regional and global events, ensuring that open contracting is strongly profiled as a key issue for participants in OGP. This includes the national launches of OGP’s IRM assessments on progress, many of which include valuable analysis on procurement reform. Visa versa, OCP  will reach out to its network of civil society partners and make sure that they are aware of the value of engaging with the OGP platform in their respective countries.

You can find out more details about how we plan to work together here.

We are looking forward to working with you on making your open government strategy stronger. Get in touch if you would like to find out more detail  or want to collaborate.

 

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