Public contracting is a trillion-dollar global marketplace run on public money to deliver goods, works and services to citizens.

Transparency and openness around this spending can help improve the competitiveness, integrity and efficiency of the contracting process. Yet information on what happens with that money is scarce and disconnected, and access to it is restricted.

Concerns around confidentiality of information in contracts are arguably the most significant barriers to more openness. This brief guide proposes five core principles to make contracting information open-by-design to avoid a lazy default of routinely classifying information as confidential unless proven otherwise.

Discussing these principles with more than 70 experts across government, business and civil society from more than 20 countries, we examined the ten most common arguments against making contracting information public. As we looked into each of these, we found surprisingly little evidence that backed up the harm proposed by the arguments and quite a lot of evidence that does not support them. This is why we have – somewhat provocatively – chosen to label these arguments as “myths”.

We hope that this report and website puts evidence-based arguments in your hands to help you counter the inertia, persiflage and vested interests that you will confront as you try to bring more light and insight into the business of government.