The Global Data Barometer (GDB) boasts of incredible partnerships with organisations harnessing data for the public good. One such partnership is the collaboration between the GDB and the Open Contracting Partnership (OCP) in the development of the public procurement module.
Camila Salazar, Lead Data Analyst at OCP, shares more about the work and projects undertaken by this organisation. OCP works to open up and transform public procurement to ensure money is spent well on the goods, public works and public services that citizens deserve.
OCP believes that there is still a need to increase collaboration between civil society, and private and public actors to improve understanding and access to information about how governments spend money from planning to implementation. Existing data infrastructure needs to be modernized and linked up versus creating many isolated solutions to ensure sustainability over time and enable users to follow the money efficiently.
The work of OCP and the GDB collaboration
Q: Can you provide a brief summary of the work that you do?
The Open Contracting Partnership is a silo-busting collaboration across governments, businesses, civil society, and technologists to open up and transform government contracting worldwide. We bring open data and open government together to make sure public money is spent openly, fairly and effectively. We focus on public contracts as they are the single biggest item of spending by most governments. They are a government’s number one corruption risk and they are vital to make sure citizens get the services that they deserve.
Q: How does the GDB matter for the work that you’re doing?
Open data on public contracts is one of the key pillars of achieving systematic change and impact in public procurement. It is a powerful tool to track the public contracting process and gain insights into what is going on at every stage of the contracting process. OCP supports government structure and publishes their procurement data in open formats, following the Open Contracting Data Standard, so that anyone anywhere can access and monitor the data. The Global Data Barometer can provide insights into how countries are disclosing (or not) procurement data, and how different stakeholders are using it in practice.
Therefore, the findings of the GDB are important because public procurement has moved into the spotlight during the pandemic with questions on whether money has been spent effectively, and as governments are set to invest trillions of dollars to enable recovery.
Q: What are some of your early reactions to the data that has been collected by the GDB?
- We are seeing many countries from different regions that understand the value of providing open data on its public contacts and that have advanced in making its information more accessible to the public. This shows us that publishing open data from planning to the delivery of a contract is possible and not limited to developed countries.
- There are still huge data gaps in terms of the disclosure of procurement data at the different stages of the process (planning, tender, award, contract implementation). Some countries that disclose procurement data only have information available from one or few stages which makes it difficult to track the full procurement process.
- Even when there is open data available in open formats, there are still gaps in its use by government, civil society and especially the private sector. This shows the need for more engagement with users to get value from the data.
- The collected data shows there are only a few examples of countries disclosing or using procurement data for red flag analysis or related to key topics such as sustainability.
The results also show that there are few examples of data use related to sustainability in procurement. We would like to see procurement as a central lever for social and societal problems, taking economic and social decisions based on the best data available and empowering everyone to track and monitor its implementation.
Q: What are some compelling examples of data availability, data governance, data capacity building or data use in your area?
There are more than 40 national and subnational governments or public entities publishing procurement data following the Open Contracting Data Standard. In the results of the GDB, around 90 countries mentioned they have some procurement data available online in some form (this could be open or in other formats).
However, over the years, we have seen some of the best open procurement data from countries including Ukraine (Example1, Example2, Example3, Example4) and Paraguay (Example1, Example2). In these countries there is a high availability of contracting data from the different stages of the process, but also widespread use by government, civil society, and media organizations that has led to reforms and impact. Other countries include Colombia, Chile, and Moldova.
In the results of the GDB, around 90 countries mentioned they have some procurement data available online in some form (this could be open or in other formats).
Q: What do you think is currently missing from the data ecosystem in your area?
We think more collaboration between civil society, civic technologists, businesses, and public actors will improve existing data infrastructure versus creating many isolated solutions that are not sustainable over time. Embedding reforms and the relevance of using open data within government itself is another critical aspect for the success of data-driven policy making.
Q: What key recommendations would you make to governments and organisations working in your field to improve data availability, governance, capacity building and use?
When we work with governments and other stakeholders in improving data availability, one of the key ingredients for a successful implementation is to have clear goals, a good understanding of what are the key use cases, and identifying and involving key stakeholders and users from the beginning of the reform process. Implementing a technical publication is as important as reaching out to civil society or private users that can provide feedback and that will use the data once it’s published.
This multi stakeholder approach helps to have efficient feedback mechanisms to improve the data availability, promote data use, and drive data-driven reforms on key social issues. In short, disclosing data not only requires a technical team, but also clear goals and a good data ecosystem.