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Open Government Contracts Platform is now live!

Benjamin Herzberg's picture

More than 60 governments have committed to the Open Government Partnership (OGP), making their government data available to enable public scrutiny and citizen monitoring, and enhance government accountability. The Open Contracting community is devising Open Contracting Data Standard to enhance disclosure and participation in public contracting processes. In the U.S., the GovLab at New York University developed an OpenData500 project that has an interactive visualization of how U.S. companies are using government data for new business opportunities. It’s all a good start.

Despite all these developments on opening up data interaction, a critical question remains: how can we  make sure that governments disburse public resources to those that need it most, and that public contracts are allocated in a transparent, accountable and efficient manner?
 
Government contracts account for a considerable amount of public resources, but citizens and private sector players rarely have direct access to these data sources. A fully transparent contracting process can instill significant efficiency into government procurement processes, lower costs, increase competition, and improve public accountability. Making data related to bidding, tendering, and awarding of government contracts publicly available could enable companies and citizens to easily monitor and search for government contracts and explore business opportunities.

Such a platform to freely interact with government contract data is no longer just a concept: The World Bank Governance Global Practice’s Open Private Sector Platform is proud to launch the Open Government Contracts Platform, an open data instrument elaborated in collaboration with Govini and the larger Open Contracting community.
 
As a demonstration, the platform currently displays in real-time 44,000 contract records totaling $7.3 billion from India, one of the world’s most populous democracies. India was chosen as a pilot for this project due to the high number of available contracts from various government agencies in machine-readable format in the English language. The platform is readily accessible for public use and completely free of charge. Both raw datasets and search results are fully exportable in CSV format and reusable by others. There is also a registration option for users who desire to save their searches or receive email alerts when new contracts matching their search term emerge on the market.
 
With a more comprehensive view of the global marketplace, government agencies will be mouse clicks away from identifying the right vendors. Business owners, on the other hand, can use real-time data analytics to capture historical trends, improve their understanding of government procurement needs, and adjust business strategies to enhance their competitive advantage.
 
A small and medium enterprise (SME) now has the same access to procurement data as a big corporation. The platform’s deep analytic page views, powered by Govini, will help companies uncover market opportunities and potential partners, and open up prospects for research and development. And improved data-driven decision-making by the private sector will enhance business continuity and promote sustainable economic growth where it is most needed.
 
I believe this is a test case for revolutionizing public-private procurement interactions by leveraging open data. It offers a coherent and transparent process to the provision of machine-readable public procurement contracts, and provides governance advocates the transparency and accountability tool they were missing.
 
Got interest in exploring government contracting process in India? Come and check out possible new business opportunities on the Open Government Contracts Platform.
 
How can we make this platform better? Tell us in the comments.

Comments

Submitted by Wolfgang on

Is the purpose of the site to serve as a aggregator, repository and archive for tender announcements? If it stores all the documents, even after they are deleted from the website of respective government agencies, I guess that would be added value - if this data can then be connected to award data later on.

I guess the platform is still at an early development stage and still work in progress – will it include actual solicitations? Or only some meta data on solicitations?

I wasn't able to find any actual announcements or links to them. The registration doesn't seem to work, I wasn't able to set up a user account. On a lot links, I get the error message:

"Not Found
The requested URL /userprofile/register/ was not found on this server."

Submitted by BenjaminHerzberg on

Hi Wolfgang, thanks for your inquiry.

Regarding the error you got, not sure you used the correct registration link, which is found here: http://opencontracts.govini.com/profiles/register/

Additionally, any user may navigate to the link by hovering over the profile icon in the upper right corner, selecting the "Don't have an account? Sign Up" link.

Regarding the website itself, http://opencontracts.govini.com creates value by aggregating procurement data from multiple sources, providing an intuitive interface, and enabling users to see all modifications of contract data (even if these have been removed from governments websites - so that users can have a view into the entire contracting process). It's all open data, and users can re-use and create value from the data if they wish to do so. However, as you would have surely noticed by browsing through the interface, while some open solicitations or archived contract opportunities have lots of data associated to them, others don't. That's because the interface is limited in what it displays to what machine-readable data the government puts out there to start with. This is exactly why the World Bank helps governments on their "Open Contracting" strategies. The goal is to try to open up more government data and put more information available online (if possible in a standardized manner - hence the Open Contracts Data Standard initiative), for the benefits of all.

A functionality which the site permits is alerting users of new contracts or solicitations via daily email notification. In order to utilize the daily email and saved searches functionalities, the user must register at the link above. This is completely free of charge, and the registration only serves to remember one's searches and preferences.

By the way, searching on the site without registration is also possible simply by going to the homepage here:
http://opencontracts.govini.com/home/

I hope to have answered your questions to your satisfaction. I plan to schedule in the next few weeks a public webinar with a realtime online demo, to walk interested people through the features, functionality, search, registration and usability of the site. I'll post the date and time here. I hope youll be able to join in.

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