Hivos International

Open Contracting

Magnifying glass looking at inner workings of machine

How much money was spent to build the new public school? How did the government decide which company will get the contract? Did the company actually deliver according to the contact? To answer these questions citizens need to access information about the full public contracting process cycle: from planning, to procurement, to contracting, implementation and monitoring of results.

This is why Hivos and ARTICLE19 launched a global programme on Open Contracting Data, funded by and in cooperation with the Dutch government, and in collaboration with the Open Contracting Partnership. The programme aims to open up government contracting by supporting journalists, activists, businesses and civic watchdog organisations in their efforts to use contracting data and public revenue flows for public scrutiny, so that the huge sums of taxpayers’ money are spent honestly and efficiently, according to the highest standards of transparency and integrity.

It will be implemented in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Indonesia, Philippines and Guatemala, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and partners such as the Open Contracting Partnership. 

Governments spend an estimated US$ 9.5 trillion worldwide in public contracting. This process presents high corruption risks. Making data and information about the public contacting process more open and transparent, governments can save tax money, make better use of national resources, deliver better goods and services, prevent corruption and fraud, and create a better business environment to stimulate innovation.

However the public contracting process is complex and sometimes difficult to understand. Journalists, civil society organisations and other infomediaries play an important role in analysing, contextualising and translating this information into tangible and relevant information for citizens.

The Hivos and ARTICLE19 programme on Open Contracting Data supports these infomediaries in their efforts to use contracting data and public revenue flows for public scrutiny, advocacy campaigns or strategic litigation and translate it into meaningful, comprehensible information for citizens. This way, citizens can gain insight into what governments and businesses are doing, how they obtain and spend (public) money and hold them to account. In addition, the programme advocates for policy and practice change by governments to open up more and high-quality data on public contracting for the public good.

On 5 January 2017, the programme launched its website, Open Up Contracting, with a global call for proposals that aims to build the capacity of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), media, entrepreneurs or social-start-ups in analysing public contracting data for lobby and advocacy purposes. If you are involved in a project, initiative or organisation trying to improve the transparency and accountability of public institutions in Indonesia, the Philippines, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi or Guatemala – this could be a unique opportunity for you.