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A year full of open contracting highlights: our personal review

When we were looking back this year, two things stood out: 1) The step change is in the depth and diversity of all our amazing partners, 2) our best moments were when we had a chance to work directly with you all.

There have been some cool products such as our reports Mythbusting Confidentiality in Public Procurement and our Idiot’s Guide to Looting Public Procurement alongside many new tools to help crack open all the information from the many new open contracting publishers this year. But few things beat a crowded happy hour on the top floor with a spectacular view of Buenos Aires – that Ciudad de la Furia – with all of the energy, commitment and fun you all bring to working on opening up the largest global public marketplace.

So here are our, very personal most treasured moments of 2018.

Ben: I’m back from our first substantial engagements in Asia and am completely stoked. As a Malaysian, I’m excited to have a new government (after 61 years!) that will implement open contracting! Indonesia has made high-level public commitments to do so too and we expect to welcome new programmes from Australia in 2019.

Carey: I think my favorite moment would be from the International Open Data Conference. It was so inspirational to get all of our partners together from literally across the world to dig into some really heady questions, celebrate how far we’ve come, and begin to plot how to move to even more impact and success.

How much would you pay for a mop? Maybe €20 for a fancy, squeezable one with a cool handle? Guardian public leadership editor Jane Dudman at the Paris Peace Forum on why it matters if government overspend on vital services for citizens.

Gavin: The energy and the intensity of the Paris Peace Forum, where we were exploring open contracting for a mega-event like the Paris 2024 Olympics, left a big impression on me. I loved learning from such smart and committed people like Michael Owh, the Chief Procurement Officer of Los Angeles who is thinking about how to reach the thousands of minority and women-owned businesses currently shut out of procurement across his city. Here is someone from the government really taking ownership of a problem in government and doing something about it!

Georg: I don’t normally read the UK’s Daily Mirror. But when a journalist asked for details on the government contracts by the Big Four accountancy firms, I started digging out the numbers from and found more than GBP 1 billion worth. I’m excited to see journalists from Argentina to the UK starting to use open contracting data.

Hera: For me, the most awe-inspiring moment was at IODC, standing at the back of the beautiful room filled with law books at our pre-event in the Law Faculty of the University of Buenos Aires where there were so many people from across our field. There was a strike that day and transport had shut down, yet the room was packed!

James: One of the great opportunities for me to strengthen relationships and create new ones came with a meeting in London in February by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development that brought together a diverse set of partners – support providers, procurement experts, academics. This strongly informed my work on the data standard and its tools.

Kathrin: One of my highlights was the work with cities in the US, such as Los Angeles. One of their experiences drove home how important openness in terms of open information and engagement is. The city works with youth at risks through contracted services providers for youth development. But these services did not lead to gang reduction. So the city changed their approach, they analyzed contracting and performance data and began to regularly discuss the results with the service providers helping to better track progress and make course corrections if necessary.

Karolis: I was exhausted and barely standing after talking to the thousandth person at the OGP Summit in gorgeous Tbilisi. By the poolside, Gavin had just given a powerful “We are transforming the biggest market in the world” speech launching our Mythbusting Confidentiality report. I was thinking about how we should use all that brainpower there to conquer the world. Not many ideas came to my mind, but by the end, people were jumping in and enjoying the pool.

Lindsey: The OGP Asia Pacific meeting was a turning point for me. We developed new partnerships and strengthened old ones. Tough questions were raised and serious challenges explored. Practitioners were motivated by meaningful goals to improve outcomes for citizens. It felt like a community and a movement. The moment was both energizing and daunting to our mission to scale support for the growing global field.

Whether it’s light relief or thinking about our work, with the highly decentralized team that we have at the Open Contracting Partnership, some of the most important moments came from spending time together!

David: From Montreal, where we savored unspeakable forms of poutine but compensated with fully vegan options, to Buenos Aires where we debated with waiters on how well a piece of steak should (not) be done, and eating street food or Korean BBQ in Seoul. It’s been just a few months but I am always drawn to that sense of family we share in what we do.  

Katherine: I will never forget our team’s midnight walk through the woods in Montreal. Some fiercely leading the charge towards some shortcut I am not sure we ever found, some joking around in the middle of the swarm, and a few others dragging their feet. But in the end, we were all one unit, one quirky little pack just trying to make it out of the woods together towards the bright lights of the finish line. All just walking each other home.

Nicolas: My best moments would definitely have to be spending time with the team during our retreats, realizing the great people I work with, and understanding how the results achieved in Latin America help us reach the objectives we have as an organization.

And a warm welcome to our newest team members Andye and Amie who joined just in time to celebrate a babyshower for our colleague Marie. Happy holidays!


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