Written By , 14 Jun 2017

The Bureau for Public Procurement in Nigeria has won a Government Innovation Award for a pioneering project with civil society and business to use open data underpinned by legal reform to make information about the country’s notoriously corrupt procurement sector more accessible, transparent and accountable to the public. The award is conferred as part of the Open Contracting Innovation Challenge, a competition run by the Open Contracting Partnership and the Open Data Institute to recognize groundbreaking data-driven ideas for improving public procurement.

Six finalists, from the Czech Republic, Malaysia, Mexico, Ukraine and the UK, have also been shortlisted for the $30,000 Grand Prize, which is awarded to non-government applicants.

In total, 88 teams from 40 countries and every continent responded to our challenge question: How would you use data to strengthen the integrity and effectiveness of public procurement?

This matters because every third dollar that governments spend goes into public contracts. The Innovation Challenge honors original ideas for managing, analyzing, and monitoring how the government buys goods and services, as well as cutting-edge approaches to publishing what gets bought, when, from whom, and for how much.

“We were blown away by quality, diversity, and ambition of the applications from so many incredible innovators working to make government contracting smarter, fairer and better. The prize could help to take these ideas to scale and a huge impact on people’s lives everywhere,” said Gavin Hayman, Executive Director of the Open Contracting Partnership.

Nigeria’s Bureau for Public Procurement is building its first-ever unified public procurement approach, the Nigerian Open Contracting Portal or NOCOPO, that will publish open data from over 750 government agencies to the Open Contracting Data Standard. It will improve transparency to prevent corruption, enhance active citizen participation and feedback towards achieving better service delivery and increase ease of doing business in Nigeria. As a winner of the Government Innovation Award, the Nigerian team will receive mentoring and expert support to accelerate the progress and execution of their innovation.

Our judges also selected six outstanding ideas to go into the running for the Grand Prize:

  • Contratobook by SpaceshipLabs from Mexico aims to detect and flag potential contracts and contractors that may be involved in corruption scandals using machine learning.
  • Telus by the Sinar Project from Malaysia will increase the accountability of public officials by linking open contracting data to corporate ownership registries and other open databases focusing on politically exposed persons.
  • OCDS Search by OCDLab from Ukraine proposes an open-source Open Contracting Data Standard search engine that is embeddable without programming on any website or app to convert data to accessible, readable information.
  • DigitalTwins by the Association of Industrial Automation Enterprises of Ukraine (AIAEU) aims to tackle fraud in public procurement, such as manipulating the description of goods and services by automatically standardizing and digitalizing these descriptions.
  • Joined up data: Linked, usable procurement data by OpenOpps from the UK will unlock new analysis opportunities of procurement data by linking and matching the data of buyers and government entities for its database of over 450 different sources from 76 countries.
  • Benchmarking of contracting authorities by Datlab from the Czech Republic aims to rank public buyers on transparency, competition and procurement results based on OCDS data.

Finalists each receive $5,000 in prize money to further develop their project.

The six finalists and the Government Innovations Prize winner will come together in London on 28-29 June to receive specialist advice and plan the incubation phase. The final pitch for the Grand Prize of $30,000 will be in September.

Government Innovation and Grand Prize winners will be honored at Open Contracting 2017, a global meeting for open contracting innovators from around the world to be held in Amsterdam in November.

The Challenge is funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.