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Transforming a city through public contracting: A scavenger hunt in Bogotá

For most people, public contracting is like air – it’s invisible, yet its influence is palpable all around us. During our planning retreat in Bogotá last week (have a look at our new strategy and leave your comments here), we took a break from our work and hit the streets for a very special scavenger hunt to see how public contracts play out in the city.

This week is #OpenGovWeek, so we thought we’d challenge you: Follow the steps below and let us know how you go in the comments. And if you’re not in Bogotá, how much of the hunt can you complete virtually?

Where? The hunt will begin at Bioxury Hotel and end at Parque el Virrey.


Walk west towards Carrera 10, take a right on Carrera 10 towards Calle 85. Then take a right on Calle 85.

1) Carulla El Retiro (Calle 85 con Carrera 9)

Context: We know how open contracting helped the city of Bogotá reform its school meals program and find well-known food suppliers that had never sold products to the government before. One of the products that children love is a dairy drink called avena (oats). 

Mission: Carulla is a high-end grocery shop in Bogotá. Enter the grocery shop and search the prices of avena that are part of the children’s school meal. What is the price difference compared to the prices that the District pays? You can find the current price of avena that the city pays under the last purchase order. This information is also exported to OCDS!

Walk west to Carrera 11 and cross the street.

2) Bus stops in Carrera 11 and Calle 85

Context: Bus stops in Bogota are concession contracts. The public space agency of Bogota (DADEP) signed a contract with Eucol in which the latter is authorized to place (and sell) ads on the street and is responsible for maintaining the bus stops.

Another unusual characteristic of the transport system in Bogotá is that it used to be a private business. This changed with the introduction of the Public Transport Integrated System (SiTP), which is also a concession contract. You will see several blue buses stopping at the bus stop on the western side of Carrera 11 between Calles 85 and 86.

Mission: Go to the bus stops to the right of the “pet shop”. Write down all the bus lines that stop here.

Walk north on Carrera 11 towards Calle 86a.

3) Parque del Japón (Carrera 11 between streets 88 and 87)

Context: As part of a larger strategy to increase the use of public and open spaces, the city administration set out in 2018 to carry out a number of public works in the park, including creating a football (soccer) field and clearing some sections. Neighborhood associations have opposed the reforms: some want to protect the trees; Others argue they don’t need a public space close to their homes because they can socialize at their own private country clubs. In response to a class action filed by a neighborhood association, a judge ordered this infrastructure project to be stopped. The two contracts for the project, which had already been awarded by the city government, were stopped: one for the construction of the park and the other for the supervision (interventoría) of the works.

Mission: Check the billboards located at the construction site. What is the name of the contractor in charge of the supervision of the works?

Walk south on Carrera 11 towards Calle 93. Take a left to reach the park on Calle 93A.

4) Parque de la 93 (between Carreras 11A and 13 and streets 93A and 93B)

Context: Procurement can transform areas. Parque de la 93 was a barren space before 1995, with high grass and rats. It was dangerous to cross even during daytime. Groups of neighbors organized themselves and worked alongside the city government to renovate the park. They set out a PPP contract where neighbors and the city government collaborated to maintain the park. Income from events in the park goes to the neighborhood’ association. Other parks in the city are maintained by contractors hired by the city’s parks agency, Instituto Distrital de Recreación y Deporte (IDRD).

Mission: Look for a bench and explore this json file that contains some contracts from IDRD. Write down the complete number that identifies this buyer (buyer ID). If you think you have enough time, boost your energy for data exploration with ice cream at Crepes & Waffles Heladería 🙂

Walk west on street 93A towards Carrera 13. Then walk south on Carrera 13.

5) Street 92 (bike lane, intersection with Carrera 13)

Context: Traffic jams are one of the worst problems in Bogotá. The city government is trying different strategies to cope with this problem, including building more bicycle lanes. Bogotá now has more than 500 km of them, making it the largest network in a Latin American city. In addition to contracting public works for the bike lanes, the city must think about related contracts such as road signs, paint, and traffic lights.

Mission: Count the number of traffic signs (on poles, not painted on the street) placed for cyclists on the central bike lane of Street 92 between Carreras 13 and 15.

Walk south on Carrera 15.

6) Parque El Virrey

Context: The first thing you will see are small flower shops. These reveal a key concept about contracting: not all government contracts are related to procurement. Vendors pay the city for the use of this public space under a lease type of contract. Since its renovation in 1999, the park’s popularity has grown. The park required modifications to meet the increasing demand for services. The city had to plan (and contract) the construction of specialized mini-parks for children and sports.

Mission: Take a group selfie at a sports mini-park, and at a children’s mini-park.

You did it! How long did it take you? Let us know.

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