Open Contracting

Have you ever wondered how much your city spends on school lunches? What about services for the homeless? Cities spend billions of dollars every year on goods and services that residents care about, and yet sometimes they are left in the dark when it comes to important questions about who is being paid, what is being procured, and how much is being spent.

The Sunlight Foundation has looked at best practices in making this contract data more open and transparent to help reduce corruption in the procurement process, improve government effectiveness, and allow for more accountability and oversight in the process.

Nowhere is this more important than in municipal procurement. Cities opening and sharing information about their acquisition needs, contract process, and the performance of their vendors will help to improve their communities by building greater trust in government spending. It will also increase opportunities for potential vendors by lowering barriers to identify relevant bids and understanding the government’s decision-making in contract awards. Finally, it makes the internal planning and preparation process more effective as well by having access to timely information across government agencies.

The Sunlight Open Cities team has a number of resources available for municipalities interested in making their contracting data more open and available online. Learn more about them below.

Policy Guidelines for Municipal Open Contracting

Sunlight and the Open Contracting Partnership have produced a set of simple, practical guidelines for city procurement officials to consider as they develop their own contracting data release programs. Real world cases highlight best practices from 22 North American cities, drawing on interviews conducted with municipal staff across the U.S., Mexico City, and Montreal. See the guide ››

Open contracting in Los Angeles

The City of Los Angeles, Sunlight Open Cities, and the Open Contracting Partnership are collaborating to transform how businesses compete for opportunities with the City — with the goal of making the procurement process more streamlined and inclusive for small, local, and diverse businesses throughout the City. Clear and usable open data on the contracting process is critical to keep businesses, officials, and other stakeholders apprised of upcoming and ongoing opportunities, and prevent folks from missing out on contracts. Learn more about the pilot project ››

Open contracting in Philadelphia

As part of the City of Philadelphia’s shift to value-based food purchasing, the City, Sunlight Open Cities, and the Open Contracting Partnership have a project that aims to provide nutritious food for residents and better opportunities for local business. The project will identify how improved open data and data management practices for food procurement can increase accountability in the process, help the City be a better buyer to its vendors, and provide better access to higher quality food for citizens. Learn more about the pilot project ››

Open contracting in Glendale, Arizona

Sunlight and the Harvard Kennedy School’s Government Performance Lab (GPL) worked with the City of Glendale, AZ to use publish contextual data about upcoming and potential capital improvement projects so that both current vendors and vendors without previous experience doing business with Glendale have more time to identify opportunities, build staff capacity, and submit competitive bid proposals. Learn more about the pilot project ››

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