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17 February 2014 | Will Green
Work has begun to develop a common standard for the disclosure of contract data to “empower citizens around the world to hold their governments to account”.
The Open Contracting Data Standard is designed to “cut across silos” and allow for comparisons and analysis of public sector contracts across countries, sectors and regions.
The project involves a collaboration between the Open Contracting Partnership (OCP) and the World Wide Web Foundation with funding from the Omidyar Network.
The OCP said: “Contracting is at the core of how governments generate revenues and spend public resources, yet contracting information is often unavailable for public scrutiny.
“Ultimately, the development of this standard will help to ensure that investment deals are aligned with the public interest, that public resources are managed effectively and that citizens received the services and goods they deserve, so that development benefits all.”
The standard is being developed through research, consultation, testing and feedback and the Web Foundation aims to have a version ready by the end of 2014.
Governments around the world are estimated to spend $9.5 trillion (£5.7 trillion) each year through contracts, according to the OCP, and the standard is aiming to serve as a tool for authorities to release data in a consistent format.
Robert Hunya, manager of the World Bank Institute’s Open Government Practice and a member of the OCP, said: “The Open Contracting Data Standard is a crucial step to ensuring that public contracting is truly public and that citizens can be active participants in the contracting processes that impact their lives and the lives of those in their communities.”