Open Contracting: Central to the Openness Agenda
Open Contracting has become central to the open government agenda. As of this writing, 43 out of the 64 countries that are currently part of the Open Government Partnership, have made commitments to contracting and procurement processes that are more open and participatory, with more countries joining every day.
Amongst the commitments that governments are making, there are such things as the endorsement of the Open Contracting Global Principles or the implementation of the Open Contracting Data Standard.
Whether the creation of an online procurement portal – like in Jordan, Guatemala and Lithuania – or the development of national laws promoting transparency in procurement processes – like in Mongolia and the Dominican Republic – governments all around the world are making progress in opening up contracting and striving for better results for all.
Open Contracting has become an essential component of the open government agenda, across sectors – from infrastructure, to extractives, to general procurement – and in countries across all regions of the world.
Countries such as Mexico – the current OGP Chair – Romania and the United Kingdom have endorsed the Open Contracting Principles.
In Romania, the National Action Plan states that “the government commits to work with the civil society and other stakeholders to endorse the open contracting principles and enhance the transparency of public contracting”.
Paraguay and the United Kingdom, amongst others, are also advancing transparency in public contracting through commitments to adopt the Open Contracting Data Standard, in order to publish public procurement data in a more accessible, interoperable and useful manner.
The United Kingdom’s OGP National Action Plan mentions that “the UK government will endorse, implement and champion internationally the Open Contracting Principles at the end of October 2013 and continue to assist in the development of a set of open contracting data standard”.
Version 1.0 of the Open Contracting Data Standard will be launched in November 2014 during the Americas Regional Meeting of the OGP in Costa Rica, another country that has led significant efforts on open contracting.
Other countries making important progress on Open Contracting include Canada and Honduras. In Canada’s action plan – currently on the consultations stage – it include a passage that states that “Canada supports the steps taken by the Open Contracting Partnership to strengthen openness and transparency of procurement processes in the international community through the establishment of Open Contracting Global Principles” .
All of these commitments show remarkable prospects for a new norm in which public contracting is truly public, and serve as evidence that open contracting has become a fundamental component of the global open government agenda.
 Romania National Action Plan 2014-2016. Commitment on Open Contracting. Available at:http://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Romania%202nd%20Action%20Plan%202014-2016_0.pdf
 Open Government Partnership UK National Action Plan 2013-2015. Commitment No.12. Available at:http://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/20131031_ogp_uknationalactionplan.pdf
 Draft of Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government 2014-2016. Available at:http://data.gc.ca/eng/canadas-draft-action-plan-open-government-20