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Public Procurement


The public procurement module has been developed in collaboration with the Open Contracting Partnership to provide an improved mapping of:

  • The extent to which comprehensive and detailed public procurement data is available around the world;
  • The extent to which procurement data is being used.

This module builds on the Open Data Barometer indicator on public contracts data and seeks to examine the connections between public procurement data and other key elements of public data infrastructure, including company information and public finance data.

Prospective Indicators

Public Procurement Data and the Public Good

Governments use public procurement to spend public funds on goods, services, works, and infrastructure. Every year, trillions of dollars are spent through public procurement. During the COVID-19 pandemic alone, many governments have purchased vast quantities of protective equipment and other supplies from the private sector. Better governance of public money through intelligent use of procurement data is directly supportive of the wider public good. This module relates to SDG targets 16.5: substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms and 12.7: promote public procurement practices that are sustainable in accordance with national policies and priorities.

Increased availability and use of data on public procurement can be used to create more competitive markets for provision of services with public funds, decreased financial leakages, improved oversight by individuals and communities, and better service delivery overall. Over recent decades, many governments have undertaken extensive public procurement reforms, including the introduction of electronic procurement systems, procurement portals, and mechanisms of community oversight. While public tender advertisement is a long-established practice, there is growing understanding that public information should be available for all stages of the procurement process, from planning through tender and award, to implementation. Provision of this information as structured data is fast becoming a global norm, recognizing that data has the potential to power internal government analytics, increase private sector access to tender opportunities, and improve transparency and accountability of procurement processes. Sophisticated use of data in procurement can also enable a wide range of factors to influence decision-making beyond price alone, supporting the move toward more environmentally sustainable and gender equitable procurement.

Building on principles and practices elaborated by the Open Contracting Partnership, this module assesses the global availability of structured data on procurement planning, tender, award, and implementation. Recent research has also outlined how data use can improve public service outcomes, highlighting that the ‘short path’ to impact is through improved government use of data. As a result, this module will also focus on government use of procurement data and analytics. Separate questions on anti-corruption uses of data will include an element to check for cases where procurement data is being used.

Use Cases Shaping This Module

The Open Contracting Partnership will use data from this module to produce research and advocacy outputs on the state of open contracting practice, complementing their deep-dive analysis of countries publishing data to the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS). This module also seeks to support national public procurement agencies, oversight authorities, anti-corruption agencies, central public administration authorities (ministries of finance in particular), national audit institutions/courts of audit, local public administration authorities, civil society organizations implementing procurement monitoring programs, international financial institutions (EBRD, World Bank, IMF), and transparency and accountability initiatives.

Global Relevance

Although a small number of large countries contribute the majority of public procurement spend by value, estimates by the Open Contracting Partnership and Spend Network suggest almost all countries spend at least 3 percent of their GDP through public procurement, with the average spend above 10 percent of GDP: around 1 of every 3 dollars spent by government (Open Contracting Partnership 2020). In almost all cases, the national government will carry out some level of procurement activities. Although the services delivered through national procurement will vary depending on federal structures and how responsibilities are divided between central government and sub-national units, it is reasonable to focus assessment on national government procurement.

No secondary indicators are currently proposed for this module, although the Barometer will explore the possibility of capturing metrics on the data capacity of the procurement sector through data from the World Bank’s Benchmarking Public Procurement project and IDFI’s Transparent Public Procurement Rating project, and will monitor updates to coverage of both the BPP dataset on conventional public procurement and the Global Public Procurement Database (GPPD) to assess whether these may be used in future to substitute or complement our primary indicators.

Module Development Notes

The 3rd, 4th and Leaders Editions of the Open Data Barometer included a data availability indicator on public contracts, focusing on award data. This was defined as follows:

Details of the contracts issued by the national or federal government: When answering this question please look for sources that provide contract award data and not only requests for bids (i.e. details of the fact a contract has been put in place). If only solicitation/tenders are available, please do not consider the data available but still include this in your description of the data.

The updated data availability indicator will support the disaggregation of data on stages of the contracting process, allowing a more-or-less directly comparable benchmark (availability of award data) indicator to be generated. However, the Barometer seeks to design an updated contract data availability indicator that will be sensitive to the availability of tender, award, and contract performance information, as well as to the completeness of the available dataset (i.e. whether it represents just a few procurement processes or all the procurement processes carried out by a country).

The proposed indicator for contract data availability may allow countries with only tender information as structured or open data to score more highly than they did in the ODB (which would have given a zero score to a country with no award information), but it will also lead to countries with only partial award information and without contract performance information, achieving lower scores than the comparable ODB indicator.