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Rebuilding the trust in governments through Open Contracting

Source: The World Bank Group, a founding member of the Open Contracting Partnerhsip

Building trust between citizens and governments is crucial to successfully address, in a collaborative and engaged manner, many of the issues that affect the everyday lives of citizens, like corruption, government inefficiency and lack of service delivery.

Recent data, however, has shown that trust between citizens and governments ranks low. In fact, in the context of Davos, the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer stated that the number of “truster countries” are at an all-time low, reflecting a general decline of people’s trust in institutions of governments, NGOs, business and media.

Public contracting, as one of the activities most prone to fall victim to inefficiency, corruption and collusion, is often cited as one of those areas in which the trust between citizens and government is most precarious; mostly as a result of the lack of transparency of the governments and limited opportunities of participation of non-state actors in decision-making processes.

The case of public contracting reassures that openness and collaboration are essential for improving the relationship between citizens and governments. Governments that are more open are better positioned to work together with citizens to achieve better outcomes for all and to co-create practical solutions to long-standing problems.

In a recent Global Opening Government Survey, 69% of citizens in 62 countries said that they would trust their government more if their government were more open. Moreover, 77% of respondents said that they believe citizens should have a say in budgeting and contracting processes conducted by the governments, which reflects a clear correlation between citizens’ participation and their level of trust in the government.

To rebuild the trust between citizens and government, the Open Contracting approach seeks to make public contracting processes, from award through implementation, more open and participatory. By doing so, it sets the environment for a wide range of actors to be able to collaborate with each other to improve efficiency and end corruption in public contracting, fostering a mutually reinforcing dynamic in which governments are worth of the trust of their citizens, and in which citizens and governments can work together towards common goals.

The current crisis in trust serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of advancing the Open Contracting agenda. The increasing demand for openness, transparency and participation is a great opportunity for procurement practitioners from the public and private sectors, as well as for transparency and open government specialists, to help build the trust of citizens, journalists and civil society organizations, by transforming the way public contracting occurs.

The future is Open.

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