Why the Open Contracting Data Standard matters

Why the Open Contracting Data Standard matters

Image credit: Unfinished Monorail Suspension Bridge, Malaysia (https://www.flickr.com/groups/urbex-malaysia/)

Open Contracting, a project to encourage the open publication of public sector contracting data, is working to establish a data standard for contracting and procurement data (http://standard.open-contracting.org/). Much of this work has been done by the prolific and highly talented Tim Davies, who is breathing life into the standard.

We’re strong advocates of the standard and will soon be publishing all of the tender data we gather openly and in a format that complies with the standard, here’s four reasons why:

1. The standard raises the bar on data publication

Too many open procurement initiatives have been built on making sure that tender adverts are published, but not that much on contract awards and other documents. The standard makes it easier to see what is missing.

2. The standard makes it easier to analyse the data

Having a standard makes it possible to compare data from different sources, which will allow researchers to conduct detailed and comprehensive analysis on procurements across the world.

3. Better analysis means less fraud, corruption and waste

If we are able to analyse large volumes of data it will be easier to spot anomalies within tenders. Better analysis means being able to spot corrupt practices, fraudulent purchasing and wastage in public purchasing.

4. Better data will mean better services

Improving our understanding of tenders and contracting will also make it easier to understand whether a service was actually delivered, whether it was delivered effectively and whether it was value for money. Good data will put an end to unbuilt bridges or half-finished roads, software that doesn’t work and projects that never happened.

As more and more public money is directed to companies, it becomes increasingly critical to ensure that this money actually meets the needs of citizens; better data has the chance to deliver new insights into the trillions of dollars spent by governments every year.

Update: details of the Open Contracting Partnership’s funding arrangements are here: http://www.open-contracting.org/our_transparency

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