Open contracts valued at $362.8bn per annum

Public procurement is a major market in the world, one $13 trillion USD in size. But how much of that is opened up to the public? After all, public procurement is taxpayer’s money being spent. We worked with the Open Contracting Partnership to find out.

How we did this

We collect contract notices from all over the world through https://openopps.com. By collecting this data, we could work out the value of public procurement being opened up. Of course, there were many we missed, be it from lack of information on notices or lack of access to the data. But this represents a major review of publishing value all around the world.

$362.8bn: the value unlocked by open data

The amount of value opened up by open data is $362.8bn US Dollars per annum. This figure represents 2.81% of the total estimated value of public procurement spend. The amount of value opened up by Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) is $244.4bn US Dollars per annum or 1.88% of the total estimated value of public procurement spend. Of this, the USA publishes the most contract data ($117.8bn or 6.46% of total spend), closely followed by the UK ($101.8bn or 28.36% of total spend). 

There are many more out there

This figure of $362.8bn represents a baseline. Many more contracts are published openly around the world but their value is not discernible. In order to calculate annual contract value, we need for each contract notice: the value of the contract, the start date and the end date. However, key information is often lacking. For instance, both OCDS publishers (Paraguay and Uruguay), and open publishers (El Salvador, Argentina, and Norway) often lacked key information around dates. 

How to improve

Therefore, we strongly recommend that publishers include end dates as part of their contract data. This would not just allow a valuation of contracts over time but provide data users with a better understanding of when pertinent contracts are due to expire. We also recommend for contract start and end dates to be mandatory on Tenders Electronic Daily. As a key European source of tenders and contracts, this recommendation would allow for a much better, like-for-like understanding of European procurement data. It would also reduce the need for extensive searching and standardisation of national sources such as http://doffin.no/ and https://www.evergabe-online.de.

Encouraging data stewardship

We also found many examples where data stewardship could be improved. By way of example, on the UK’s Contracts Finder, there are many ‘0’ and blank value contracts being published as well as contracts with end dates that are before start dates. In OCDS countries we also found data published in misplaced fields. Although generally isolated rather than systemic examples, these nonetheless underline the importance of good data stewardship. We recommend for all publishers need to maintain and validate their data, even those that publish good data. Countries such as Colombia Compra Eficiente in Colombia are making huge efforts to improve the quality of the data. We strongly encourage their efforts and encourage others to do the same.

Who we are

Spend Network works in partnership with governments and organisations around the world to advocate open data, improve data quality. Through our innovative analysis of this data, we can unlock savings in public spending.

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