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Ten Trillion Dollars Deserves Transparency: Government Contracts, Commercial Confidentiality and the Public Interest Test


Caroline Anstey, Chair, CGD Commercial Transparency Working Group

Nathaniel Heller, Executive Vice President, Results for Development

Charles Kenny, Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development

Georg Neumann, Senior Manager, Communications and Engagement, Open Contracting Partnership


Masood Ahmed, President, Center for Global Development

Every year, governments worldwide sign contracts worth trillions of dollars. Citizens should know what is in those contracts, so that they can hold governments accountable. They can only do so if the contracts are published. However, there are cases in which full publication of all the information in government contracts is against the public interest because it may reduce the quality or increase the price of procurements. To date, there is little guidance and very mixed practice regarding when it is in the public interest to publish or to redact information that is potentially commercially valuable.

The Center for Global Development Working Group on Commercial Confidentiality was convened last year to help fill that gap. The report of the Working Group presents ten principles around commercial transparency that build on the key concept that information should be kept confidential on the grounds of commercial sensitivity only when it is in the public interest to do so.

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