Hivos endorses Open Data Charter

March 29, 2016

To support the International Open Data Charter’s work and show strong commitment to its principles, Hivos has endorsed this network of governments, civil society organisations, private businesses and multilateral organisations. The Open Data charter works for the adoption and implementation of shared open data principles in order to put actionable data in the hands of citizens and to generate social and economic progress around the world.

Over the years, Hivos has developed a comprehensive programme on Transparency and Accountability, focussing on the right to access information and the possibility for citizens to participate in decision-making processes, which is essential for a democratic society.

The commitment of Hivos to the principles of the Charter is reflected in its recently launched 5-year programme focussing on Open Contracting Data. As part of the Open Data movement, the opening up of contracts offers a revolution in public procurement. An estimated US$ 9.5 trillion is spent by governments in deals with businesses. If governments do this more openly, efficiently and effectively, they can save money, deliver better goods and services to citizens, prevent corruption and fraud, create a better business environment and stimulate innovation.

To drive this kind of social progress, the joint Open Contracting Data programme of Hivos and ARTICLE19, funded by and in cooperation with the Dutch government, supports independent journalists, hacktivists, artists, academics and civic watchdogs in opening up public contracting data and making it actionable and useful. It will engage citizens and so-called ‘infomediaries’ in six countries in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa.

Governments use public contracting to provide vital infrastructure, goods and services to citizens.  But disasters are bound to happen when that infrastructure is built badly and in an earthquake zone, such as the school that collapsed in Sichuan, China, in 2008. The Chinese government later arrested parents of the victims for protesting, but not the contractors for their shoddy work. This is why citizens all over the world are starting to rally behind the idea of open contracting.

Businesses, especially small and medium enterprises, have also seen opportunities increase through more insight into the process of public procurement. For example, participation in bidding for government contracts nearly doubled in Slovakia after disclosing tenders and contracts openly and putting in place simple and fair processes for awarding contracting.

But in the end, it is citizens who benefit most. This is why Hivos is constantly finding new ways for citizens everywhere to gain insight into the activities of businesses and governments and how they obtain and spend (public) money, and to exert pressure where needed to strengthen accountability.