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Walking the G8’s Talk on Open Contracting

G8 leaders only found limited areas of agreement when they met earlier this week in Northern Ireland. But they did agree on this: it’s time to open contracting. 

The G8 took an important step in calling for open contracting as part of the Lough Erne Declaration

In the ten-point declaration, G8 leaders directly highlight the importance of disclosing contract information and of having that information lead to enhanced accountability.  

“Governments should publish information… on government contracts in a way that is easy to read and re-use, so that citizen can hold them to account”. 

Encouragingly, the Declaration included unambiguous commitments to opening up land and extractives – two critical sectors for open contracting – were also spelled out in the declaration . For example, it states that “land transactions should be transparent.”

The G8 language follows this week’s announcement by the World Bank that it will “mainstream open contracting in [the World Bank’s] new procurement policy”.  

During the announcement, made by World Bank managing director Caroline Anstey in the context of the G8’s “Open for Growth” event, Anstey also mentioned that starting July 1st the World Bank will publish all contract award information for contracts above $250,000.  

Anstey also stated that the World Bank will continue working with governments to disclose contract information of World Bank-financed operations and will support the development a global open contracting data standard.  

After these announcements, the question remains: How to walk the G8’s talk on open contracting? 

The Open Contracting Partnership and its members are ready to answer that question.  

On top of the important developments coming from the World Bank – a founding member of the Open Contracting Partnership – the OCP has just released a first draft of the global open contracting principles.  

This draft was developed over a period of 9 months with the inputs of nearly 200 individuals and organizations. It is now publicly available for further consultations and feedback. The principles aim to serve as a guide for all of those seeking to advance open contracting around the world. 

Additionally, the Open Contracting Partnership is currently working with the open data community to develop a global standard for open contracting data. This standard will serve as a resource for all of those committed to publishing contracting information and for those working to ensure such information can be used as widely as possible.

 Open contracting practices are also gaining traction at country-level where coalitions in countries from Mongolia to Uganda are advocating for improved legislative frameworks and are monitoring the implementation of contracts in sectors from infrastructure to extractives. 

The procurement agencies in places such as Colombia and the Philippines  – both members of the Open Contracting Parntership – are also championing open contracting and taking important steps to make open contracting a reality in their countries.

The Open Contracting Partnership has also recently re-launched its community of practice to foster exchanges between all those interested in being part of the open contracting movement. With a growing membership, the community of practice has emerged as the place for all of those advancing open contracting to share and co-create tools and resources.

Just this past week, the Open Contracting Partnership hosted several key members of the open contracting community as part of a process to draft a guide for practitioners by practitioners. The first version of the book, which was created in 5 days using the “booksprint” methodology, has already been released, and is the newest in a long list of resources that the Partnership has made available for public use.  

In light of these recent G8 announcements it is clear that the momentum for open contracting is growing quickly.

The Open Contracting Partnership is ready to walk the G8’s talk on open contracting. Here’s to hoping that the G8 will do the same.

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