Test Driving the Open Contracting Data Standard

September 11, 2014
Open Data, Procurement

Development Gateway’s dgMarket was one of the first global e-procurement platforms. Since 2003, dgMarket has aggregated tender notices, contract awards and bidding documents from national governments and development agencies. dgMarket now lists over a million opportunities every year from 170 countries, representing around $1 trillion in government procurement.

Building on this history of procurement innovation, Development Gateway and its AidData partners became early supporters of the Open Contracting movement. In Nepal, we have worked with the Open Aid Partnership to help government agencies adopt Open Contracting principles and connect government contracts with foreign aid funding. Phase II of the effort is working to mainstream open contracting into national procurement systems. We’ll have more to say about that soon.

Now that the beta Open Contracting Data Standard is live, we’re test driving it in a big way: sharing some of dgMarket’s vast store of contract awards in OCDS JSON format. This first OCDS dataset contains over 2 million European Union procurement awards since 2006, with over €1.45 trillion in contract funding represented. You can see, for example, that the average contract value is about €700K, and that the average number of bidders for each opportunity is 5.5. Above is s a look at the data in all of their OCDS-JSON glory.

If that screenshot scares you, check out our EU contract award visualization app, which makes all of this data a lot more palatable and interactive.

Thinking big-picture, OCDS datasets like this are obviously just a first step toward realizing the broader Open Contracting vision. But we at DG believe that the open procurement movement can improve the way we spend public funds writ large. And good contract data plus good aid data will empower development champions to make sure that development dollars go where they are needed and accomplish as much good as possible.

We look forward to moving ahead with the Open Contracting movement, working toward a long-term goal of helping our partner country governments implement OC principles and standards, getting more value from their aid, budget, and procurement data.

And to all the others out there who aggregate procurement information — who’s next?

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