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Transforming Public Procurement for People and the Planet

Gavin HaymanandKathrin Frauscher|

This blog post has been crossposted from the Open Contracting Partnership (OCP) and references their new strategy. For further information on OCP’s new strategy and initiatives, readers are encouraged to visit OCP’s official website for further information and how OCP can help you implement better, more inclusive and sustainable public procurement.

This year more than ever, we’re aware of what’s at stake for democracy, and how elections impact public trust in government. Alongside voting, paying taxes and expecting quality goods, services and infrastructure is the most direct way people experience their government – and decide whether or not democracy delivers. 

That’s why our new 2030 strategy as Open Contracting Partnership puts people right at the center of our work and impact and set ourselves a bold new target. We want to enable one billion people to live in more equitable, prosperous, and sustainable communities by 2030 by improving US$2 trillion in public procurement spending.  

First up, a big thank you to the open government advocates who contributed their ideas to help us shape our work. Many of you were either directly involved in its drafting or inspired us through the incredible, impactful work you do, proving that transformational change is possible. 

Indeed, over OGP’s first ten years, over 60 members have made 120 commitments related to open contracting. This groundswell has taken us a long way towards establishing open contracting as the standard of good procurement globally. 

Certainly, better procurement is a gift that keeps giving. Over our last strategy from 2019-2023, we estimate that our work had an indirect positive impact on an estimated 209 million lives and US$116 billion of public spending. 

Once the culture of data-driven procurement transformation and of working across stakeholders on inclusive reforms gets embedded, it can address many different problems from improving coordination and reducing corruption risk in pandemic PPE, to saving billions of dollars through improving efficiency and competition, to boosting local economic inclusion, especially of women-owned businesses, to the provision of vital medicines and infrastructure, to giving a voice to marginalized communities and to citizen monitors better holding government to account. 

In our new strategy, we want to build on that momentum to reach a tipping point of global change in policy and practice. Our aim is to shift the status quo to make procurement a smart, user-friendly digital service that addresses the urgent needs of our time: improving economic inclusion and climate resilience, rebuilding integrity and trust, and delivering the quality public services we all deserve. 

There are four pathways we’ve identified to make this decisive transformation happen.

  1. Co-create digital procurement solutions. Bringing data-driven and outcome-oriented procurement to many more places will require much better digital procurement solutions. Current e-procurement systems serve bureaucracy, not people.
    We’ll be working with governments to adopt effective e-government procurement (e-GP) systems and support the development of solutions that use data to measure and improve outcomes from procurement, linking data indicators and analytics to policy priorities. For example, the Dominican Republic’s procurement agency monitors all transactions in the country’s electronic procurement system in real-time using 21 automated corruption red flag risk indicators. Lithuania tracks the use of “green” criteria to promote the procurement of environmentally friendly products and services, and Paraguay uses machine learning to advertise tenders suitable for small businesses.
  2. Reform locally, collaborate regionally: The frontline of procurement innovation is at the local level where government spending is the most visible for communities and has the clearest impact on their lives. The single biggest investment from our last strategy was to support local and regional teams. We’ve seen the benefits of that regional shift, especially during the pandemic response and how open contracting strategies, tools, and lessons travel best around shared languages and shared priority topics. So make sure you check out our regional pages and newsletters!People care about what’s being funded and built in their area, and we’ve seen that public trust builds when civic groups have timely, user-friendly information about public spending and a say in decision-making. So we will double down on supporting local partners to grow their capacity and impact, especially local-rooted civil society partners who are natural users of public procurement information such as reAcción in Paraguay, CivicDataLab in India, or Africa Freedom of Information Centre in Uganda. They are deeply embedded in their communities, navigating their political economy and present in the policy conversations. And they really own the outcomes from our collaboration, using open contracting information to drive better services and outcomes for their communities.
  3. International partnerships take open contracting to scale: Public procurement is a huge market, covering US$13 trillion of spending each year. Through regional and global alliances, we can set the expectation for open practices to be used and create international standards for governments to turn to. In last year’s first-ever resolution on public procurement, this vision of procurement as a transparent, modern, and data-driven public service was strongly reflected – thanks to a coordinated push from the UNCAC Coalition and OCP, and leadership by the French government.  These regional and international standards also provide local changemakers additional cover when navigating challenging political situations.We still see an implementation gap around delivering on commitments and on ensuring they carry over to critical sectors like infrastructure, health, and sustainability. We will now more explicitly focus our international advocacy efforts on embedding and supporting open contracting interventions in multilateral institutions like the World Bank that support digital transformation and good governance in procurement.
  4. Shaping global norms and practices, especially on e-GP and sustainability: Our global research also tells us that government buyers are still struggling to get started and to scale up their efforts on greening procurement. This is all the more urgent when we consider the huge scale up that we need in green financing to achieve our net zero goals. Likewise, our research into the experience of e-GP implementation in lower capacity contexts highlights significant gaps in global assistance around developing locally owned and maintained e-GP systems versus pursuing lowest-price, off-the-shelf products.We can help change that with more practical support, tools and inspiration, bridging the gap between knowledge and practice with user-friendly ‘how to’ guides – check out our Open and Sustainable Public Procurement Toolkit and our evergreen Idiot’s Guide to Looting Public Procurement to Get Rich Quick – and by sharing the real stories of reforms and their challenges.


Finally, there will be times when we’ll need to be courageous in taking bold actions. In Ukraine, OCP is leading the project office that is working directly with the Ministry of Restoration and civil society to ensure Ukraine’s reconstruction will be fully transparent and accountable through the Digital Reconstruction Ecosystem for Accountable Management (DREAM) ecosystem showing that Ukraine’s wartime reconstruction can be digital, accountable and centered around local communities.  

We’ve set ourselves some bold and stretching targets around all of these topics. So have a read, kick the tires, tell us what you think, and let us know how we can work together for even more transformational impact #TheFutureIsOpen.

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