Open Government Contracts Platform
More than 60 governments have committed to the Open Government Partnership (OGP), making their government data available to enable public scrutiny and citizen monitoring, and enhance government accountability. The Open Contracting community is devising Open Contracting Data Standards to enhance disclosure and participation in public contracting processes. In the U.S., the GovLab at New York University developed an OpenData500 project that has an interactive visualization of how U.S. companies are using government data for new business opportunities. It’s all a good start.
Despite all these developments on opening up data interaction, a critical question remains: how can we truly make sure that governments disburse public resources to those that need it most, and that public contracts are allocated in a transparent, accountable and efficient manner?
Government contracts account for a considerable amount of public resources, but citizens and private sector players rarely have direct access to these data sources. A fully transparent contracting process can instill significant efficiency into government procurement processes, lower costs, increase competition, and improve public accountability. Making data related to bidding, tendering, and awarding of government contracts publicly available could enable companies and citizens to easily monitor and search for government contracts and explore business opportunities.
Such a platform to freely interact with government contract data is no longer just a concept: The World Bank Governance Global Practice’s Open Private Sector Platform is proud to launch the Open Government Contracts Platform, an open data instrument elaborated in collaboration with Govini and the larger Open Contracting community.
As a demonstration, the platform currently displays in real-time 5,800 open tenders and 45,000 contract records totaling $9.8 billion from India, one of the world’s most populous democracies. India was chosen as a pilot for this project due to the high number of available contracts from various government agencies in machine-readable format in the English language. The platform is readily accessible for public use and completely free of charge. Both raw datasets and search results are fully exportable in CSV format and reusable by others. There is also a registration option for users who desire to save their searches or receive email alerts when new contracts matching their search term emerge on the market.
With a more comprehensive view of the global marketplace, government agencies will be mouse clicks away from identifying the right vendors. Business owners, on the other hand, can use real-time data analytics to capture historical trends, improve their understanding of government procurement needs, and adjust business strategies to enhance their competitive advantage.
A small SME now has the same access to procurement data as a big corporation. The platform’s deep analytic page views, powered by Govini, will help companies uncover market opportunities and potential partners, and open up prospects for research and development. And improved data-driven decision-making by the private sector will enhance business continuity and promote sustainable economic growth where it is most needed.
I believe this is a test case for revolutionizing public-private procurement interactions by leveraging open data. It offers a coherent and transparent process to the provision of machine-readable public procurement contracts, and provides governance advocates the transparency and accountability tool they were missing.
Got interest in exploring government contracting process in India? Come and check out possible new business opportunities on the Open Government Contract Platform.