Topic outline

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  • Introduction

    This chapter will extend knowledge of key concepts related to Open Contracting. It will focus specifically on how Open Contracting approaches and tools have led to sustainable and successful projects.

    The chapter, including this introduction, is structured in six modules including one quiz.

     

    Contents of this course:

    1. Introduction

    2. What is The Open Contracting Data Standard

    3. How Does Electronic Government Procurement Fit In?

    4. OC, OCDS and e-GP. What is the Difference?

    5. Building a "Golden Triangle"

    6. Two Quick Questions


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    • Data Usage is the Goal, not just Publication

      Publishing data is not an end in itself. Incomplete, poor quality and inaccessible data has the same impact as perfect, informative and machine readable data if neither are read or used. 

      The first stage of any Open Contracting initiative is therefore to work out how to ensure the data will be accessible, used and analysed and build these techniques into every aspect of implementation.

      The key indicator of success for all open contracting initiatives is therefore to what extent the data harvested is independently and professionally used. 




       

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      • What is The Open Contracting Data Standard?

        The Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) enables disclosure of data and documents at all stages of the contracting process by defining a common data model.

        Globally the majority of contracting data is recorded in a myriad of different formats and syntaxes. This means that monitoring of contracts and procurement is difficult. For example for a variety of reasons it is important to record the currency in which procurement transactions are conducted. How should one record it? Taking the example of Uganda, should the currency be recorded as Ugandan shilling, UGX, Shilling, or USh?

        While this is a simplistic example which may not seem very impactful, procurement systems are incredibly complex with thousands of these types of fields that need to be recorded. Imagine having that level of uncertainty on every single field. In order to understand, a computer would have to understand millions of different inputs.

        What OCDS does is standardise the way in which contracting data is recorded. The Ugandan Shilling has to be recorded as “UGX”. This simplifies the whole process, reducing the amount of different ways data can be recorded and provides principles which ensure transparency such as the data having to be in a format that can be read by machines (not PDF!). 

        OCDS enables data to be fed through machines which can then carry out analytics and produce visualisations, diagrams, red flag analysis and trends in corruption vulnerabilities, at a fraction of the time it would take for people to do it. As OCDS is part of a global movement, this data can be compared globally, enabling better learning loops.

        If we see open contracting as the end goal, OCDS is currently one of the most effective tools for achieving it.


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        • How Does Electronic Government Procurement Fit In?

          Electronic Government Procurement (e-GP) is the use of information technology by governments in conducting their procurement activities with suppliers for the acquisition of works, goods, and consultancy services required by the public sector. The adoption of e-GP has the capacity to facilitate Open Contracting (OC) and Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS).

          Electronic systems provide opportunities for openness in procurement (such as real-time features, and the notification to all suppliers with answers to inquiries). Let’s look at some of the benefits of integrating open contracting into e-GP in more detail:

          Less strain on IT infrastructure

          Using OCDS data can significantly reduce the burden on IT infrastructure and make it easier to transact using e-GP in countries with limited internet connectivity. There is a compelling argument for far fewer megabytes of dumb bid documents, but far more kilobytes of useable OCDS intelligent bid and contract data instead.

          A helping hand in decentralized systems

          e-GP offers a practical solution for collecting machine-readable, OCDS-compliant procurement data at a granular level from buyers and sellers transacting throughout the procurement cycle. e-GP is an essential tool for the operation of decentralised public procurement systems, (which are becoming the norm), as it can collect data from hundreds of procuring entities throughout the country concerned. 1



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          • OC, OCDS and e-GP. What is the Difference?

            A Tool for Carrying out Public ProcurementA Structured Way Of Storing Data Which Allows For Easier Analysis And Machine ReadabilityA Concept Which Promotes Transparency In Public Procurement

            Electronic Government Procurement


            Open Contracting Data Standard


            Open Contracting




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            • Building a "Golden Triangle"

              The key to sustained access and usage of data is committed participation from the “golden triangle” of stakeholders – government, business and civil society.  Click on the image hotspots to learn more about each role that the three groups take on in open contracting



              A balanced golden triangle, between government, civil society and business, fosters mutual trust and participation, which improves procurement outcome


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