Using open contracting data

Open contracting data can be a powerful tool to drive better decision making and improved policy in public contracting, if it is used well.

OCDS data can be used to:

  • Deliver better value for money, saving government money and time;
  • Build a fairer business environment and a level playing field for suppliers; and
  • Improve public integrity by deterring fraud and corruption; and
  • Track and improve service delivery.

In this section, you will learn how to find OCDS data, what format OCDS data is, and access all of our guides, tools, and methodologies that will help you to use it.

Get the data

To start using OCDS data, you can download it from national and subnational government websites around the world that are currently publishing OCDS data.

We also maintain OCDS Kingfisher to download, store and pre-process OCDS data from publishers. If you want to access OCDS data using this tool, if you have trouble downloading data from a publisher’s website,  or if you need a specific subset of the data, send an email to data@open-contracting.org and we can help you get the data you need.

What format is OCDS?

The OCDS is serialized in a JSON format as well as a CSV format.

JSON looks like this:

{
  "ocid": "ocds-213czf-1",
  "id": "1",
  "date": "2001-02-03T04:05:06Z",
  "tag": [
    "planning"],
  "initiationType": "tender"
}

The benefit of JSON is that it allows relationships to be communicated by nesting information in a structure, similar to a document with headings and sub-headings. It is more ‘lightweight’ than some alternatives, meaning more information can fit into smaller file sizes. Finally, it is the format preferred by many software developers for building tools for monitoring and analysis.

CSV looks like this:

ocid,id,date,tag,initiationType
ocds-213czf-1,1,2001-02-03T04:05:06Z,planning,tender

CSV is familiar to anyone who has used Excel (with rows and columns). It can get a little bit complicated to display the relationships between stages of the procurement process, actors, values, etc. in spreadsheet format, but it is the data format that the widest number of people are able to use with less technical training. That is why we encourage publishers to publish in both formats and we maintain tools to convert data between the two formats.

If you open the above CSV in spreadsheet software like Excel, it looks like this:

ocid id date tag initiationType
ocds-213czf-1 1 2001-02-03T04:05:06Z planning tender

To get a sense of what a contracting process looks like in OCDS, you can browse our JSON examples and our Excel examples.

Apply the data

Open contracting becomes powerful when people use the data. Don’t let the data sit idle.

To understand what data fields the OCDS includes, visit the Open Contracting Data Standard documentation.

Below, you can find tools to download, transform, visualize and analyze the data; and consult learning resources on how to perform analysis using Excel, R and Kibana. Get inspired by our data stories on how open contracting data is being used around the world.

Many of the tools for working with the data standard are free and open source. You can deploy and adapt them for use with your data. Or, get inspiration from the mobile apps, dashboards and other tools built by others.

Read stories about how open contracting data has been used to increase efficiency, fight corruption through red flags and monitoring, analyze competition and track public service delivery.

Contact our expert

Andidiong Okon,
Community and Capacity Building Manager

Tools and Guidance

Data Tools

We maintain a list of tools to facilitate accessing OCDS data, converting it between JSON and CSV, and reviewing its quality. We also keep track of re-usable and open-source tools developed by others that can help you analyze and present OCDS data and insights to different audiences.

Access Convert Review Analyze Present
OCDS Kingfisher

Redash

Flatten Tool

OCDS Kit

OCDS Toucan

jq

Data Review Tool

jOCDS Validator

Google Colaboratory Notebooks Tower Builder

OCDS Show

Google Data Studio

 

See the full list of reusable OCDS Helpdesk and community tools in our Tools Directory.

Or, get inspired by existing projects, portals, platforms and tools to visualize, analyze and export open procurement data.

Contact our expert

James McKinney,
Head of Data Products and Services

Learning Guides and Resources

To get you started with our OCDS tools, we have developed a number of resources that appeal to the different learning styles of our community of data users. Whether you are new to the OCDS and want to understand its history and key components, or you are a journalist or researcher looking to grab OCDS from your country and perform some analysis, these should get you going.

See detailed guides and resources that show practical tools around data use or bite-size guides on specific skills needed to work with data. Need something quick? Check out our videos or skills quizzes to boost your knowledge on thorny data concepts and tools.

Guides and References
Our comprehensive technical data use guides and references show you what is possible with our tools and your OCDS data hand-in-hand.

 

Learning Videos
Need to quickly learn how to perform a specific task with one of our OCDS tools or brush up on a key concept? Check out one or more of our learning videos.

  • Understanding OCDS JSON data (coming soon)
  • Understanding OCDS CSV data (coming soon)
  • Getting Familiar with the Flatten Tool (coming soon)
  • Reviewing Your OCDS data with the Data Review Tool (coming soon)

 

Learning Labs
Check out our self-paced, interactive learning labs that walk you through building specific skills and knowledge for OCDS data use

 

Knowledge Slides
Dive deeper into OCDS concepts that are vital for you to understand and use OCDS data and our tools.

Contact our expert

Camila Salazar,
Lead Data Analyst