Open contracting is a journey rather than a single destination. We’re here to help you get further, faster.

How to implement open contracting

Public contracting is the critical point where government budgets turn into vital goods, works and services for citizens. It is on the brink of a major transformation as it moves from paper to data and from being a compliance-based chore to being a digital service designed around users. We want to help drive that change. Open contracting is about bringing open data and open government together to make public contracting reforms more agile, more impactful and more durable.

Browse our practical tools, resources and guidance on implementing open contracting to get better reforms that stick. Learn how you can make your data user-friendly with tools such as the Open Contracting Data Standard. And find out more about our services and how our specialist teams can help you.

Want everything in one place? Our Open Contracting Playbook is a one stop shop sharing tried and tested open contracting strategies and compelling global examples.


 

Implementing open contracting reforms

These are the common stages that we have seen from reforms that get to real impact and systemic change. We’ve divided our guidance into these four key elements of open contracting to help you identify the best resources at each step.

 

Set clear goals and secure buy-in

 At the heart of open contracting is driving better results from procurement and from public contracts, improving the efficiency, effectiveness and integrity of public contracting but also other policy priorities such as improving sustainability and/or inclusion. The whole contracting process should be simple, accessible and inclusive, designed with users across government, businesses, and civil society to maximize participation and efficiency.

Yet, despite the huge amounts of money at stake, entire procurement systems are designed without clear performance goals. ‘Open-by-design’ digitization of procurement offers an opportunity to consider not only the end-to-end management of the procurement system, but also how that system supports the wider public financial management and effectiveness of government.

The following resources help in co-designing procurement reform goals with stakeholders, such as user research, co-creation workshops, or market research to build a broader base of support.

Key resources

Guide
From idea to impact: open contracting reform design and management

Our guide From idea to impact: open contracting reform design and management provides you with the resources you need to implement procurement reforms.

Template
Define your goal and a theory of change

An e ective theory of change lays out a strategic plan to achieve your reform goal. Check out the following tools to begin crafting your theory of change.

Planning Resource
Indicators to diagnose the performance of a procurement market

This resources details a list of common indicators for an initial diagnosis of the performance of a procurement market using public procurement data

Template
Build a robust political mandate

Our Quickstart Guide includes stakeholder and power mapping exercises can help you identify and begin thinking through their interests and secure buy-in.

Resource
Mythbusting Confidentiality in Public Contracting

Debunk the most common arguments against confidentiality.

Guide
Open Up Guide

This guide explains how open data can be used to tackle corruption.

Publish, use and improve data

Data and documents are often scattered across different systems and institutions so it is vital to bring information together so users can search and filter for the insights they need.

Think about what information you and other stakeholders need to know, survey what information exists and where, and then make a plan to collect and share the information you need to attain your goals. If the information doesn’t exist, you need to make a plan to improve the completeness, structure, quality and timeliness of information until it does help you measure the things that matter. But publishing data and information alone are not an end. Only by working in collaboration with other government stakeholders, companies and civil society, you will make sure the data is used and can lead to results.

The Open Contracting Data Standard provides a unique global schema to bring together the data you need for your reforms. We have developed a large set of tools and resources that will help you in the process of publishing high-quality data that you can find here.

The resources below will guide your data strategy to publish, use and improve your data.

Key resources

Resource page
Open Contracting Data Standard Documentation

The documentation brings together all of our guidance on the Open Contracting Data Standard

Tools
Open Contracting Tools Directory

There are many tools using the OCDS for reuse.

Template
OCDS Implementation Checklist

Our checklist provides you with step-by-step guidance implementing OCDS.

Guide
Digitize paper-based procurement systems

Our guide to Defining OCDS Functional Requirements for e-Government Procurement Systems

Case studies
Technical case studies: What can we learn from the choices made by OCDS implementers?

Insights into the OCDS implementation from Paraguay, Zambia, Colombia, Moldova and Argentinas Road Agency Vialidad.

Improve stakeholder engagement and oversight

Long-term, durable public contracting reforms need to be inclusive and responsive, building on the endorsement of users, policy makers and politicians.

Feedback by buyers and sellers on each other improves their interactions and the performance of the procurement process. Feedback from citizens and users of services helps identify priorities, improves service delivery and builds public trust.

Consultation and monitoring are important opportunities for business and civil society to help shape better spending and foster innovation, particularly during the project planning and contract implementation stages.

The following resources pull together concepts and approaches to guide your stakeholder engagement strategy.

Key resources

Blog series
Procurement monitoring in a digital world

This series of blog posts brings together case studies and examples for citizen procurement monitoring.

Article
Engage vendors in pre-market consultations

This example from Mexico City shares how the city engaged with vendors, including by sharing data via a dedicated website, openly sharing vendor questions and answers, and issuing a request for information (RFI).

Blog
How feedback can help harness the force

This blog shares ive steps you can take to get started integrating feedback into the procurement process.

Manuals
Analyze and visualize open contracting data

From platforms, spreadsheets to R, this there are a number of tools and methods to start turning your data into insights you can act on.

Tactics
Get feedback on specific contracting processes or stages

Your strategies will depend on the stage of the procurement cycle.

Publication
A Procurement Path to Equity

This publication collects strategies for government and the business ecosystem to increase engagement and opportunities.

Publication
Serving the Citizens—Not the Bureaucracy

This publication by the Chicago Council provides a summary of best practice citizen engagement and engaging with the supplier ecosystem as part of a strategic vision for procurement.

Measure, adapt and institutionalize reforms

Change is hard. It takes time and care for new processes and regulations to stick and a new culture of openness and trust to build.

Implementing open contracting needs to be agile – responding and adapting to changing needs and demands. Once stakeholders are bought in, incentives change and coalitions for reform can be built that can overcome vested interests and help embed better ways of working and better results.

That’s open contracting!

The following resources provide you with the guidance to effectively measure your goals and progress, and with legal guidance to ensure your reforms stick.

Key resources

Impact stories
Impact stories

Get a backroom view on the people who make open contracting reforms happen and how open contracting data and approaches are driving reforms.

Guide
From idea to impact: open contracting reform design and management

Our guide includes detailed resources to help you implement M&E and institutionalize reforms.

Resource
Using procurement data: indicators and guidance

This guidance compiles a list of procurement indicators related to market opportunity, internal efficiency, value for money, public integrity and service delivery, that can be calculated using OCDS data helping you measure your reform progress.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us to see how we can help you.

Questions? Ideas? Email us at info@open-contracting.org or contact one of our experts.

For any technical questions, our helpdesk is always available at data@open-contracting.org