CGD’s Role in the Development of the Open Contracting Movement


This case study is one of five produced as part of an external assessment undertaken between 2020-2022 to examine how CGD contributed to influence and impact in some of its areas of work. The case studies detail five notable initiatives from CGD’s first 20 years. This external assessment was led by Benjamin Soskis of the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy and overseen by Amanda Glassman with coordination and support from Brin Datema in consultation with CGD president Masood Ahmed. Each case study was researched and authored by independent consultants to CGD. The full collection of case studies and related materials is available here.

Governments worldwide spend about $9.5 trillion a year on public contracts but these contracts often are prone to fraud, are poorly managed, and fail to deliver value for money. The “open contracting” movement, launched in October 2012, seeks to check this trend. Given the huge scale of government procurement, the movement sees open contracting as offering an opportunity to curb fraud and waste and improve government efficiency, yielding benefits not just for citizens but also for governments. It aims to bring unprecedented transparency to government contracts, from when a government tender is developed and solicited, to the moment an award is made, through the execution of the contract. 

This case study focuses on the intersection between CGD’s work on contract transparency in public procurement led by Charles Kenny and the open contracting movement. It examines the claims of causal attribution that can be made about how CGD’s work supported the emergence of the open contracting movement as well as the movement’s continued progress. It finds that CGD’s work helped meet the movement’s early need for compelling evidence on the viability of open contracting, providing an intellectual foundation that many of those interviewed for the case study view as a catalyst for global advocacy for open contracting. 


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