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Posted 19 June, 2019 by Helen Kilbey

Re-using open contracting tools: Join the community call on 10 July

Join the call at 6pm CEST/12 noon EST on July 10 by going to https://www.uberconference.com/theengineroom. It’s audio only and you’re welcome to listen in or bring your questions!

We’re excited to share that we’ve begun a new research project and invite you to contribute or learn more in a community call! In this project, we are focused on understanding what it takes to re-use both open contracting tools and broader approaches aimed at making government contracts and contracting processes transparent.

At The Engine Room, we’re strong proponents of repurposing existing technologies. Reuse helps decrease costs, minimize our digital waste and even reduce harm. However, understanding what makes re-purposing tech work in certain contexts, and not in others, is a largely under-researched area. To be able to identify the true pre-conditions of reuse in open contracting, we’re working with The World Bank’s Solutions and Innovation in Procurement (SIP) and the Open Contracting Partnership (OCP) to understand the common challenges and opportunities facing practitioners when implementing such tools. Our goal with this research is to speak to a variety of people from the space, including developers, advocates, and active users of procurement data.

To kick our project off, we’ll be hosting a community call on the topic of open procurement on July 10th at 6pm CEST / 12pm EST (details on how to join the call are at the end of this post).

We encourage you to join if you have experience in (or curiosity about!) open contracting data/tools. You’re welcome to share your ideas or just listen in. We’d love to have you there.

Open Contracting: Successes and Challenges

Contracting openness has gained strong political buy-in in the last decade, and has spurred a growing global network (which includes the Open Contracting Partnership). Civil society and government actors who try to improve governance are opening up contracting processes as a first step towards increasing efficiencies, decreasing costs, and reducing corruption. A number of countries, including Ukraine, Colombia and Paraguay, have already seen positive change through their improved systems.

Reusing existing open contracting solutions remains, however, a general challenge. Sometimes efforts are unsuccessful because one-size-fits-all systems are implemented without consideration for local context. Other times, practitioners don’t know what’s already out there and start designing new solutions from scratch. From what we’ve seen so far, most open contracting practitioners also lack the capacity to thoroughly assess their options – especially from outside their regions.

We’re starting by mapping the landscape of what’s out there so far. We want to understand the common challenges and opportunities of implementing open contracting tools: what has worked in the past, and what hasn’t? When, where, how and why have successful approaches worked?  We will look for approaches replicated in ways that have widely been considered impactful, and common patterns in the reuse of such tools.

Our ultimate goal is to ensure that future implementation of such solutions is informed by existing learning, past experiences and best practices. We believe a lot can be learned from the past experiences of others and from re-using and adapting approaches and tools that have been used in the past.

Details on joining the call

We will be using an online conferencing service called UberConference. This service allows us to connect up to 100 participants using VOIP or phone. This is not a video conferencing system, so don’t worry about brushing your hair!

To join the discussion on UberConference, just follow these steps at the time of the meeting:

  1. Using Firefox or Chrome, go to https://www.uberconference.com/theengineroom
  2. If you have trouble using your computer for audio, you can connect using your phone. Just dial +1 607-821-7499 (you don’t need a PIN).

    UberConference’s System requirements. For help, visit the UberConference FAQs, or the UberConference support portal.

If you can’t make the call…

…we’ll be using this Etherpad to document notes for the call in a comprehensive and participatory way. The notes will stay live, so no worries if you’re unable to join the call but would like to read what we talked about.

Get in touch

We look forward to connecting with you, and we’re happy to speak to anyone that has worked on these issues or has developed policies for the use of open contracting.

Get in touch with us on research[at]theengineroom.org, or tweet @engnroom.

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