Call for Proposals: Consultancy Open Contracting Benefits for Government and the Private Sector

July 5, 2018

Type: Home-based with travel, individual or team of consultants
Duration: 40-50 days (altogether for the 3 countries) between August and December 2018
Scope of work: Desk research and field work, analysis and reporting (2 drafts), blog communications.
Delivery: 15 December 2018
Submissions due: 31 July 2018

About Hivos

Hivos is an international organization that seeks new solutions to persistent global issues. Our primary focus is achieving structural change through cooperation with innovative businesses, citizens and their organizations. We share a dream with them of sustainable economies and inclusive societies. Our work in the agricultural sector promotes increased supply and access to affordable and healthy food as well as supporting sustainable agricultural policies that promote diverse and climate resilient food systems from government and private sector.


Open contracting is “about publishing and using open, accessible and timely information on government contracting to engage citizens and businesses in identifying and fixing problems.” As a process, open contracting is a commitment by data holders (often governments) to engage a variety of stakeholders, including citizens and the private sector, in meaningful discussion about procurement performance. It requires publication of procurement data in an open and structured format, such as the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS), to enable dialogue and data use by independent parties.

Open contracting has been adopted–in practice or as a commitment–by dozens of countries worldwide and received significant attention from advocates and researchers alike. But the evidence of the concrete benefits that open contracting offers to stakeholders directly involved in government procurement processes largely derives from a small group of countries. There remains a need for more robust evidence for the impacts of open contracting governments and companies, and a deeper understanding of the circumstances under which open contracting may flourish.

This research aims to fill this gap through analysis of cases in which open contracting was adopted. It identifies and assesses the ways in which key aspects of open contracting did or did not lead to increased procedural advantages or market benefits for the government and private sector actors involved.

Research Objectives

Firstly, to develop insights and an understanding of the concrete benefits of open contracting for government and private sector actors where open contracting has been implemented.

  • For Government actors we seek to understand how open contracting:
    • increases competition for tenders,
    • decreases the costs of goods and services,
    • enhances institutional efficiency,
    • reduces corruption risks, etc.
  • For private sector actors we seek to understand hoe open contracting:
    • improves market access
    • Improves timely access to information
    • reduces time and resources required to bid for contracts,
    • mitigates economic risk in procurement processes, and
    • Increases opportunities to innovate.

Secondarily, to produce useful research outputs documenting benefits associated with open contracting are expected to be useful for advocacy and process design by government officials, individual companies and trade organizations.

Thirdly, insights regarding the specific contextual and programmatic factors may contribute to specific impacts and are expected to directly inform the design of open contracting and procurement projects, and government processes.

Research Questions and Summary

This research is based on three broad research questions, which target the two primary types of stakeholders that are directly involved in open contracting and government procurement processes.

RQ 1: What concrete benefits are associated with open contracting for government actors and private sector actors?

RQ 2: What contextual and programmatic aspects of open contracting contribute to achieving the concrete benefits described in RQ1, and how?

RQ 3: What do stakeholders directly involved in, or impacted by, the implementation of open contracting processes experience as the most significant impediments to effective implementation, and how do such impediments impact the concrete benefits described above?

These questions will be pursued using multi-method within-case analysis in Mexico, Slovakia and Paraguay.

In each country, within-case analysis will be conducted on the basis of quantitative data culled from online procurement platforms and processes. Quantitative analysis will assess relationships between dependent and independent variables, as well as any variation across sectors and/or municipalities. Qualitative methods, including informant interviews and field research, will subsequently explore the causal processes underpinning those relationships and their implications.

The research will conclude with comparative analysis across the country case studies, and consideration of whether any findings may be generalized to other contexts. To the extent feasible, the project will also adapt and release research materials for application and re-use in other countries and by other researchers.


The consultant shall deliver multiple outputs, varying from reports to communications:

4.1 Mid-way report to steering committee

Consultant should deliver a midway report to the project steering committee after collecting sufficient qualitative and quantitative data in a single country to support consideration of adjustments to the methodology. Timing for the report will be agreed with the project focal point ahead of time. Midway report should be short and text based, and should include the following:

  • General description of progress to date
  • Description of key challenges in data collection – qualitative and quantitative thus far, and any potential challenges that data availability will pose to analysis
  • Prediction on how those challenges might be manifest in other countries
  • Proposed adjustments to methods in order to meet those challenges

4.2 Data collection and data mapping management

The consultant will collect and clean necessary public procurement data sets as needed. This data should be made available for republication to enable further analysis by others. If additional data sets must be converted to OCDS, the consultant should report this to the consortium contact point as soon as possible.

Consultant should further map additional data sources collectible at a low cost such as key informant interviews, online journals, or relevant national surveys of companies. Consultant should carry out fieldwork to explore the initial findings from quantitative analysis. This fieldwork and associated desk research should be conducted through the rigorous application of an appropriate methodology.

4.3 Country Reports

A narrative document should be produced for each country, including:

  • Detailed mapping of the key transparency intervention to be evaluated (e.g. adoption of a policy on open data publication). Specific interventions and the independent variables according to which they should be assessed are each described in the attached annex. An accompanying narrative should define the precise legal and technical content of the actual implemented reform, as well as the context in which it occurred. This narrative should include a particular focus on implementation timing and scope (e.g. from 1st of January in Year X, central bodies have to use the new data structure and procurement system), as well as the legal/policy changes that could impact procurement performance, including possible confounding variables (e.g. changes to complaint procedures, data collection processes, etc, as described in the attached annex), and the extent to which these reforms have been implemented.
  • Before-after analysis highlighting the concrete benefits of open contracting for government and private sector actors and analysis of the intervention and the dependent variables described in the attached annex. This analysis should be conducted according to an agreed methodology and should present reasonable and thorough arguments about how various contextual and programmatic factors contributed to various outcomes. Note that this analysis should employ the dependent and independent variables described in the attached annex. An overview of operationalized indicators will also be provided. To the extent possible, the same indicators should be used for each country to facilitate cross-country comparison.
  • Executive summaries. Short executive summaries should be provided for each of the three research questions for each country, distinguishing between benefits to each of the key stakeholder groups (governments and the private sector).

4.4 Comparative Analysis

A separate narrative analysis of comparability and external validity of the findings will accompany the final country reports. This should discuss limitations and opportunities for comparative insights, and also the degree to which any insights or methods might be generalized to other country contexts. This analysis should also consider the feasibility of adapting and releasing research materials (survey instruments, methods descriptions, data collection and management tools) for use by other researchers in other contexts.

4.5 Open Research Materials

To the extent deemed feasible in comparative analysis, the consultant will agree with the steering committee on which research materials are appropriate for adaptation and open release, and prepare them for release under creative commons license.

4.6 Communications

During and following research, consultant will author text for 3 blog posts (1000-3000 words) describing research processes and findings. Blog texts will be authored for consumption by a non-research audience within the open contracting advocacy community. 

Workflow and Timeline

Month Activity / Deliverable
1 Inception, steering committee approval of methods and work plan
2-4 Quantitative data collection and analysis
3-6 Field work, qualitative data collection and analysis
4 Midterm report
5-6 Draft country reports and comparative analysis
6 Final country reports, comparative analysis and open research materials


  1. The consultant may be an individual or team of individuals.
  2. The work could be carried out by either a single consultant or a group. It’s also possible to apply for only 1 or 2 of the countries.
  3. Demonstrated experience conducting comparable quantitative and qualitative research on governance-related processes in a developing country context.
  4. Demonstrated expertise in conducting rigorous research and appropriate methodological experience.
  5. Ability to articulate and justify a detailed methodological approach, including the specification of both quantitative and qualitative methods, any analytical risks and caveats associated with their application in the current context, and the rationale for their combination.
  6. Demonstrated strong writing skills in English, and demonstrated ability to adapt writing style to diverse audiences.
  7. Familiarity with the three countries to be studied, including political cultures and access to appropriate networks. Fluency in Spanish and a Slavic language are preferred.

Responding to the call

Interested candidates should an email before the 31st of July 2018 to Michelle van Raalte, including the following:

  • Cover letter, including description of experience with comparable projects and proposed approach to general project implementation.
  • CVs of all relevant researchers, and descriptions of research partners or contributing institutions or projects, as appropriate.
  • 2-3 pages describing the proposed methodology and mix of methods, including references and notes on potential for comparative analysis.

The issuance of this Request for proposals does not constitute an award commitment on the part of Hivos.

Note: Additional information can be found in the ANNEX: Background materials and information

In order to operationalize the variables mentioned in the ANNEX, specific indicators will need to be identified. Where feasible, the same indicators should be used across countries, in order not to obstruct any potential for comparative analysis. An initial list of indicators that have been operationalized in other contexts is available at the following links:

  • Link 1: For market opportunity, public integrity, service delivery, procurement efficiency, value for money.
  • Link 2: For red flagging legal, corruption, and collusion use cases.