Reflections on the launch of the new Open Contracting Partnership Strategy at the Open Government Partnership Summit 2019 and appointment as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Open Contracting Partnership.
Imagine over 2000 people congregating from all corners of the world. Individuals and teams with passion for driving transparency and eliminating corruption. The energy, enthusiasm and belief of the participants palpable and invigorating, every participant willing and determined to play their part in delivering a better world.
This was a reality at the Open Government Partnership Summit 2019 hosted by Canada in the city of Ottawa.
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) led by the truly inspirational Sanjay Pradhan is “…an organization of reformers inside and outside of government…”. Collectively they are working to transform how government serves its citizens. To date, 79 countries and a growing number of local governments (representing now more than 2 billion people), along with thousands of civil society organizations, are members of the OGP.
On several occasions I heard people referring to us all at the Summit as “Geeks”! I felt a little affronted by the label! Needless to say, I decided to look up the definition. It seems “Geeks” can fall into two camps - either “unfashionable and socially inept” or “knowledgeable and obsessive enthusiasts”. Based on the conversations that were going on around the Shaw Centre in Ottawa - I can confirm that the latter definition is entirely appropriate!
Over three days and across multiple sessions, case studies and lessons learned were shared in abundance and it is clear that the work of OGP is having an impact from Mexico to Kenya, from New Zealand to the UK and beyond.
Linked closely to the work of the OGP is that of The Open Contracting Partnership (OCP), an organization whose mission is to transform public contracting and make it “...open by design, fair and efficient.” OCP was launched in 2015 as a silo busting collaboration across governments, business and civil society to open up the whole process of planning, awarding and delivering against contracts.
In a world where we regularly acknowledge that trust in government and business globally remains at an all-time low, and in a world where governments currently spend around $9.5 trillion dollars a year on contracts with private companies - the existence of OGP and OCP makes perfect sense. And the impact that they have had since their inception is truly remarkable.
At the core of the work of OCP is the fact that “…open contracting has a profound impact on the lives of ordinary people...”. OCP launched their new 2019 Strategy at the Summit, a Strategy which recognises that this movement is not about transparency for transparency’s sake but rather about transformation and the significant role that technology and digitization can play in realising its goals.
For good or for bad, technology is transforming our world. Transparency and open access have become possible on an unparalleled scale. Without them, trust is eroded, truth is distorted.
Those same technologies are enabling ever more complicated relationships and provider networks, with the potential for exciting new public services, innovations that revolutionise how and where they can be delivered. Together, the public and private sector can achieve new heights and deliver on the OCP vision.
But this requires partnership - a partnership built on honesty, fairness, openness. A readiness to change. A willingness to trust. Transparency, simplification and shared goals are key to success - and through them, the work and enthusiasm of OCP can be achieved. Of that I have no doubt.
In my role as CEO of IACCM, I am leading an organization that represents a bridge between the communities that are critical to success - buyers and sellers, public and private. As an entrepreneurial non-profit, we are only too well aware of the challenges, but also of the rewards for us all when this work succeeds.
It is abundantly clear that those who work with OCP feel empowered, emboldened and supported because of its existence and presence. This makes them willing to take the heavy blows of defeat and stand up and carry on fighting for what they believe in because they know they have OCP fighting their corner, lifting them back up.
That is why I am so honoured to have been announced as Chair of the Board of OCP at the launch event for their new 2019 Strategy in Ottawa. The work of IACCM and OCP is necessarily intertwined. The work of OCP, of the amazing Gavin Hayman, Kathrin Frauscher and the entire OCP Team, whom I admire immensely, and the vision and mission of the organization is something in which I fervently believe. I am truly excited to work alongside Gavin, Kathrin, Vice Chair Mukelani Dimba and all of the OCP Board of Directors.
We are at a pivotal point in society and in our world. There is a huge collective energy to see the vision of OCP realised. Quite simply, the work of OCP is too important to fail.
Geeks we may be - knowledgeable and obsessive enthusiasts - absolutely! It takes knowledge, passion, enthusiasm and commitment to deliver against these lofty goals. As the OCP Strategy says “...we see open contracting as a journey rather than a single destination...” and it’s the coolest journey!