Transparency is and must be a key factor for the functioning of any democracy. As citizens and residents, we have the right to know how and where our taxes are spent. But in some cases, necessary information is closed or inaccessible to the public. That information often includes the contracts through which the government buys goods and services, from stationery to trucks to massive public works projects. Who are they granted to? For how much money? And why? A lack of knowledge can lead to a loss of efficiency or worse, a lack of trust between citizens and their governments.
The Open Contracting Partnership works with governments, civil society and the private sector to increase the publication and use of information on public procurement, via the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS). Mexico City began publishing open contracting data one year ago, making it the first city to publish data from all stages of the contracting process.
Today Mexico City will release OCDS data on contracts from several new city agencies. These data are now accessible via city’s open contracting platform and can be downloaded, shared and reused. Visualizations enable understanding of how, when, and where the funds are used. All the data is open source and can be reused. The site also provides APIs so that developers can create tools that update every time the data is updated on the portal.
However, the effectiveness of these data being opened depends a lot on their use. Information can empower and enable a collective transformation of the cities where we live. It can help to hold public servants accountable. With it, people can create innovative and disruptive tools that can generate a more active and more conscious participation in the public sphere.
It is under this framework that Transparencia Mexicana and the Open Contracting Partnership, with the support of the Mexico City Government and Bloomberg Associates, will launch the call for the challenge “Your City, Your Data.” In this challenge, civil society, technologists, journalists, and students are invited to develop creative uses for this data and to look for innovative solutions to strengthen public integrity in government contracting.
The challenge is aimed at supporting Mexican civil society and business to start experimenting with the possibilities. After today’s launch event, participants will have roughly a month to develop their pitches. Then the 10 best proposals will be selected. Of those ten, two winners will be chosen, one by the jury, and the other by the same participants. These two winners will receive 150,000 pesos ($8,000) to develop a minimum viable project that we will share with the world. Selection will be based on the following criteria: potential impact, capacity for innovation, use of data, scalability and viability of the project, and the quality of the team.
This challenge is about more than visualizing or analyzing Mexico City’s open contracting data; it’s really about co-creating disruptive projects that have a real impact. The winning projects will not only have an impact in Mexico City, but they will also be able to be replicated in other contexts.
We wish the participants in Mexico City best of luck in the challenge and look forward to learning how you will use open contracting data to transform your city. La data es de quien la trabaja. The data belongs to those who work it.