Transparency and accountability are two essential elements of ‘good governance’ – an elusive principle that is very hard to enforce top-down.
This is why access to information (increasingly including the proactive publication of open data) and freedom of expression are essential for citizens to make informed decisions and participate in decision-making that affects their individual lives and the development of their communities.
Emerging technological opportunities and an increasing availability of (open) data enable new ways of analysing and contextualising, such as storytelling and data journalism, and create new avenues for citizen engagement, such as monitoring budgeted projects.
Open data is playing a growing role in the larger push for more openness and has become an emerging area of activity in advocating for more transparency and accountability in government contracting. Through their daily activities, governments around the world, their agencies and various contractors accumulate enormous quantities of data. At the same time, the 2016 Open Data Barometer found that just 8 percent of countries publish open data on government contracts.
If governments open up their contracting process and data, they can save tax money, make better use of national resources, deliver better goods and services, prevent corruption and fraud, create a better business environment and stimulate innovation. 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.
Civil society and citizens play a crucial role in a movement towards more government transparency and accountability. Therefore, Hivos works with partners who operate through a bottom-up, citizen-led approach that concentrates on four themes: a citizen’s right to information; a government’s duty to deliver essential services; collective election monitoring and anti-corruption campaigns.