Over the past few months, we’ve been applying our Responsible Data lens to look at challenges in open contracting as part of a portfolio of work with Hivos, and are excited to launch our report summing up our research.
This year, Hivos’ Open Contracting Program have been moving into the implementation phase of their work together with their local partners. While they’ve been doing that, we’ve been talking with their partners, Hivos core staff, and the community of practitioners using open contracting data to advocate against corruption to understand what responsible data challenges they face in their work on open contracting. Some of who we spoke with are just getting started in this work, and the report’s take-aways are meant to be a baseline for learning as the work progresses, not an exhaustive list.
So far, open contracting has generally followed an ‘open by default’ motto. With this report, we consider what ‘responsibly open’ might look like. Putting contracts online can be a great first step towards targeted, better-informed advocacy across a range of sectors. At the same time, contracts often contain (unnecessary) personal data; or can be used as a political ‘weapon’ to point fingers; or, in many areas, put open contracting advocates at risk.
Using a responsible data framework means looking at the power held by different stakeholders, and demanding appropriate levels of transparency relative to that power. Open contracting can be an invaluable way of uncovering corruption and shining a light on hugely important (but often overlooked) procurement processes and deals.
In this briefing paper, we bring together lessons learned from open contracting advocates with emerging responsible data issues that implementing partners are seeing. We propose considerations, frameworks, and ‘questions to ask yourself’ around data in open contracting, and suggest responsible data practices to support advocates that are taking on risk by working to increase data disclosure.
Our goal is to help open contracting advocates proactively identify unintended consequences and mitigate challenges in their work – and it’s fantastic that Hivos have taken the time to consider these issues as part of their roll out.
This report is also the first to be launched using the new Responsible Data brand, which we’ve been working on over the past few months. The new site is coming soon, and we’d love to know your opinions!