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Leaders' Statement

Edwin Huizing

Executive Director

Hivos

The Netherlands, Europe

Bio

Edwin Huizing is executive director of Hivos, the Dutch Humanistic Institute of Development Cooperation. Hivos and its partners bring about social change through social innovation, working towards sustainable economies and inclusive societies.

Statement

Translating data helps citizens follow where their tax money goes

Governments use public contracting to provide vital infrastructure, goods and services to citizens. To make sure these resources are well spent the public must know how their tax money is spent, how deals get decided, whether they provide good value, and whether the services promised are delivered. To exert their right to participate in public affairs, to be really engaged and take control over their own lives, citizens need not only question authorities and denounce abuse, but also be in a position to actively shape society.

To do so, eliminating corruption is essential; it is a precondition for good governance. With total government spending through contracting amounting to an estimated US$ 9.5 trillion worldwide, this process presents high corruption risk in most countries around the world. Opening it up will minimize this risk and help mitigate its effects. This kind of publishing will only make a dent and fulfill its promise to ignite renewed democratic energy when we make full use of the possibilities of open data: proactive publication of free, online accessible and timely information on government contracting, which can be used to spark active engagement by citizens at large.

For this we need people to make information intelligible: independent journalists, hacktivists, artists, businesses, academics and civic watchdogs should be supported in their efforts to use contracting data to enhance mechanisms for public scrutiny. Also businesses, especially small and medium enterprises, see opportunities increase through more insight into the process of public procurement, which creates a more fair and equal business and investment climate and helps deliver higher quality goods and services for citizens.

To effectively improve transparency, fight corruption and enforce accountability we call upon government leaders to:

  • Provide public access to the company register including information on the beneficial ownerships of companies, trusts and other legal entities
  • Proactively publish detailed information about the whole process of public contracting following the Open Contracting Data Standard
  • Publish detailed budget and spending data following open data standards and best practice
  • Join the Open Government Partnership and make Open Data a default best practice for all Governments by adopting the International Open Data Charter
  • Ensure that citizens, civil society, watchdog organizations and media – including whistleblowers – can make use of their basic human rights like freedom of information

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We are grateful to all the authors and contributing organisations within this Manifesto and to the partner organisations that helped to convene this landmark collection of anti-corruption statements from across a wide range of business and civil society leaders. The partners for the Leaders' Anti-Corruption Manifesto are The B Team, Thomson Reuters, the Global Organisation of Parliamentarians Against Corruption, the ONE campaign and the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council

This project is supported by a grant from the Omidyar Network.

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