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

As often as possible, we will convert research findings into practical tools, guidance and advocacy resources for the field.

Our current research & guidance projects

  • Gender-responsive procurement: Carey Kluttz and Lindsey Marchessault are collaborating on a 2 year project with the Africa Freedom of Information Centre (Uganda) and the Institute for Social Accountability (Kenya) to explore 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.
  • Redesigning Auctions for Public Works and Medicines in Chile: Mariana Lopez Fernandez and Camila Salazar are working 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: Sofia Garzón, with support from Camila Salazar, are working with Universidad Nacional de Colombia to develop guidelines for public hospitals in best practices in public procurement.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Camila Salazar is working 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.
  • Efficiency: Can OCDS data help us to better understand how efficient public contracting processes are? Camila Salazar is working with Centro de Desarrollo Sostenible to develop a robust research methodology and document findings for Portugal and Chile.
  • Sustainable and Green Procurement: We have several exciting projects ongoing to research how open contracting can help in the fight against climate change. Karolis Granickas has been working to document how open data about public procurement can help public buyers drive green public procurement forward. Carey Kluttz will be working with PUBLIC to research best practices in open and sustainable procurement and how they can be applied by partners in the open contracting community. We hope to follow up these efforts into some research and guidance of whether and how OCDS can be used to support green objectives.
  • Electronic procurement: Many e-procurement reforms have been struggling. We will be soon mounting several research efforts to better understand the challenges these projects are facing and to improve our support offer and guidance for more successful implementation.
  • Antiretroviral drugs: Viktor Nestulia is leading research with Alliance for Public Health and Institute of Analysis and Advocacy in Moldova and Ukraine to identify the root causes of poor procurement of antiretroviral drugs and recommendations for improvement.
  • Improving Integrity: With support from UNODC, Gavin Hayman and Lindsey Marchessault are leading a project to (1) review and summarize best practices and emerging norms for anti-corruption in procurement and (2) 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.
  • Gender-responsive procurement in South Africa: Nkechi Coker has been working with Prof Sope William-Elegbe to document the barriers facing women-led businesses in South Africa and recommendations for reform. Our goal is for the findings of this research to inform action by key stakeholders in the country including the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer and associated government departments, civil societies and organized labour unions.
  • Global Data Barometer: Camila Salazar has been leading our collaboration with the Global Data Barometer to document open procurement in practice as part of the Global Data Barometer project.

Action Research program

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

Some highlights of our Action Research program

  • 3,000 USD grants to researchers seeking to better understand how contracting in their local contexts can be made more effective, efficient, and equitable.
  • 24 grants given 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.

Completed research

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.

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.

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.

Measuring the benefits of open contracting

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.

Contact us with your ideas

Lindsey Marchessault,
Director, Data and Engagement