Research: Understanding and building evidence for open contracting


We use research to:

  • Better understand the openness of public contracting
  • Identify problems in public contracting processes and systems
  • Build evidence for open contracting reforms

We regularly document our work and insights, helping bridge the gap between knowledge and practice with user-friendly ‘how to’ guides and by sharing the real stories of reforms and their challenges.

Our current research & guidance projects

  • Human-centred procurement technology: We are working with VLG to explore the impact of broken public procurement technology in the US and will propose a vision for how to do better.
  • Improving Integrity: With support from UNODC, Gavin Hayman and Kristen Robinson are leading a project to review and summarize best practices and emerging norms for anti-corruption in procurement and convert the best practices and emerging norms into recommended updates that could be considered by future working groups of the official guidance on implementation of the UN Convention Against Corruption.

Completed research

Fulfilling the promise of e-procurement reforms in Africa

Many e-procurement reforms have been struggling. We reviewed recent e-GP reforms in Africa to better understand its challenges and propose 8 strategies for successful projects.

Barriers and Solutions to Women’s Participation in Public Procurement in Eastern Africa

This 2-year project with the Africa Freedom of Information Centre (Uganda) and the Institute for Social Accountability (Kenya) explored the effectiveness of gender responsive procurement policies in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania. The project is supported by the International Development Research Council (Canada), the Gates Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation.

Global Data Barometer

We worked with the Global Data Barometer to document open procurement in practice as part of the Global Data Barometer project.

Sustainable Public Procurement

How can organizations buy goods and services across the three pillars of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental benefits? The new toolkit we developed with partners PUBLIC and Spend Network can help you get started, particularly in low tech environments.

Redesigning Auctions for Public Works and Medicines in Chile

We worked with Universidad de Chile, the Ministry of Public Works, and CENABAST (medical procurement authority) in Chile to research optimal solutions to redesign auctions for public works and medicine contracts.

Developing Guidelines for Public Hospitals in Colombia

We worked with Universidad Nacional de Colombia to develop guidelines for public procurement best practices in public hospitals.

Gender-responsive procurement in South Africa

Together with Prof Sope William-Elegbe of Stellenbosch University, we analyzed the barriers and the opportunities for WOBs in the South African post-Covid-19 procurement system.


Can OCDS data help us to better understand how efficient public contracting processes are? We worked with Centro de Desarrollo Sostenible to develop a robust research methodology and document findings for Portugal and Chile.

Antiretroviral drugs

In partnership with the Institut of Analysis and Advocacy, we conducted this research on how to make the procurement of antiretrovirals more efficient, faster and more convenient for customers and suppliers.

Open Contracting Legislative Guide

How do countries build robust and effective legislative frameworks for open contracting? We worked with TrustLaw to document best practices from Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, and Ukraine.

Global Procurement Spend

What is the global value of public procurement? How much of it is open? How much of it is published according to the Open Contracting Data Standard.

Towards Gender Balance in Public Procurement

What are the barriers facing women-led businesses in public procurement and how can open contracting enable them to participate equitably? Our research with Value for Women provides insights into emerging best practices and recommendations.

Improving healthcare procurement in Chile

Which types of procedures and rules lead to better value for money in procurement of medicines? We analyzed these questions through comparative analysis with the government of Chile.

Mythbusting Confidentiality in Public Contracting

This research investigated 10 commonly cited reasons not to publish contracting information, using evidence from 20 countries and input from over 70 experts to dispel these most common excuses not to publish contracting information.

Integrity in IMF COVID-19 financing: Did countries deliver on their procurement & beneficial ownership transparency commitments?

We worked with Oxford Insights to evaluate the implementation of commitments by 12 governments to improve the transparency of procurement and beneficial ownership made under the IMF COVID-19 rapid financing instruments.

Measuring short term effects of open contracting reforms

This research was undertaken by the Government Transparency Institute with support from Hivos, Development Gateway, and The B-Team. It investigated the short term effects of open contracting reforms in Mexico, Slovak Republic & Paraguay on several indicators of procurement performance.

Artificial Intelligence

We worked with the Centro de Desarrollo Sostenible to develop a network of researchers in Latin America using OCDS data and OCP’s tools, applying artificial intelligence techniques and approaches.

Action Research program

We support evidence-based policy reform by supporting researchers around the world to use open contracting data to develop actionable recommendations to improve procurement outcomes.

Highlights of our 2021/2022 Action Research program

In 2020, together with HIVOS, OCP supported a cohort of action research projects to investigate Covid-19 related emergency procurement.

Highlights of our 2020 Action Research program

  • For our 2020 Action Research program, we provided US$3,000 grants to researchers seeking to better understand how contracting in their local contexts can be made more effective, efficient, and equitable.
  • In total, we gave 24 grants to researchers in Argentina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Georgia, Guatemala, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Malawi, Nepal, Nigeria, Paraguay, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, and the UK.

The 2020 cohort of the Action Research program focused on lessons learned from Covid-19 emergency procurement. Read the findings and recommendations for better emergency procurement from 12 countries. 

Contact us with your ideas

Lindsey Marchessault,
Director, Data and Engagement