Championing transparency by following the money

November 24, 2017

Update 30 November 2017: At the end of the Open Contracting Global Summit on 29 November, Transparency International and its partners HivosCoST – the Infrastructure Transparency Initiative, Open Contracting Partnership (OCP) and Article19, launched the Clean Contracting Manifesto. The aim is to implement the whole lifecycle of public procurement in keeping with the highest possible standards of transparency, accountability and efficiency to safeguard the public interest. “The goal is for civil society to work collectively to make public contracting accountable to citizens, as opposed to corrupt special interests, especially when it comes to infrastructure delivery,” said Zoe Reiter, senior project lead at Transparency International.

See also: Real outcomes: Open contracting after OCGlobal17


“The transparency of multilateral organisations is inadequate. Access to financial data of multilateral organisations is limited.” That is the major conclusion of ‘Quickscan Open Multilaterals’, the recent study published by Cordaid, Hivos and the Open State Foundation. They found that it is still not possible to track money flows to and from many multilateral organisations, organisations that (should) set the global example for how to be transparent.

Publishing financial data is one of the key stepping stones to being able to ‘follow the money’ and open up contracting processes. Open contracting is vital to modernising governments, fighting corruption, reforming markets and fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. Better, smarter and fairer government contracting – with the active participation of citizens – can improve lives everywhere.

The Dutch government is an active member in the multilateral organisations examined in the quick scan and, as such, should lead by example to champion transparency within these organisations and likewise with national governments worldwide. The second Open Contracting Global Summit, in Amsterdam from 28 to 29 November, offers the perfect opportunity and platform from which the Dutch government – together with the many international civil society organisations present – can escalate the international momentum around opening up contracting processes for greater transparency, efficiency and accountability.

The summit is bringing together the global open contracting community to collectively articulate how we can take open contracting to the next level and deliver impact on the ground. Representatives of Hivos and Article 19’s Open Up Contracting programme will be closely involved in these discussions. Together, we will share what is working, what is not and what to do about it; how to use data for a positive impact on people’s lives; what are the best user tools to improve procurement and how to meet user needs and build alliances. We will look at innovations in key sectors from infrastructure to health to extractives, give the stage to inspirational champions from government, business and civil society, and show examples of how they can all work together to make open contracting a success.

The Hivos and Article 19 Open Up Contracting programme is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Our partners and projects in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Indonesia, Philippines, Guatemala, and Bolivia are supported in their efforts to use contracting data and public revenue flows for public scrutiny and advocacy campaigns, and to translate the data into meaningful information for citizens. This way, citizens can gain insight into how governments and businesses obtain and spend (public) money in order to hold them to account. 

While opening up contracting is not something that will happen overnight, real progress is being made. At the summit and beyond, the open contracting global community will capitalise on the impetus to further drive the global movement towards more efficient, transparent and accountable open contracting processes worldwide, with civil society and citizens front and centre.

Our short video about open contracting lays it all out in two minutes. Watch and share!

Hivos Open Up Contracting from Hivos on Vimeo.