Stop Secret Contracts: new global campaign launched

Today we at the Open Knowledge Foundation are launching a new global campaign, Stop Secret Contracts. Secret contracting leads to fraud, corruption, and unaccountability. It means the loss of millions of dollars of public money every year. Join our call to world leaders to end secrecy in public contracting.

Secrecy in contracting is leading to the loss of millions of dollars to corruption, mismanagement, and lining the pockets of unaccountable corporations. The global value of government contracts is estimated at $9.5 trillion, but even in countries with strong government transparency laws the contracting process is often opaque and unaccountable. In both Africa and the EU, estimates suggest that around $150 billion is lost annually to corruption and mismanagement.

While these numbers are staggering, the real cost is counted in the teachers who can’t be paid, the hospitals which have no medicines, and the roads which can’t be built. In the Niger Delta, over 2 million barrels of oil are extracted every day, and yet not a single new road has been built in the region for over ten years. In post-invasion Iraq, an estimated $60 billion was lost in defence and reconstruction contracts – money which could have enabled Iraq to build enough hospitals for the entire country to have a first-class health service. Across the world, the public is losing out to private interests.

Secrecy in contracting means a breakdown in public control over public money, which in its extreme forms endangers the health, futures, and lives of citizens. We must stop secret contracting now to restore trust and accountability between governments and the people.

The campaign already has over 30 organisational signatories including Global Witness, Integrity Action, the International Budget Partnership, the Sunlight Foundation and Transparency International, and we’re expecting many more to join. With local organisations in countries from Hungary to Nepal to South Sudan, we will be targeting governments at both national and international levels to secure reforms. We need your support to show governments the importance of this issue.

Rufus Pollock, Founder of the Open Knowledge Foundation said:

“Every year, millions of dollars of public money are lost to fraud, corruption, and payments to contractors that don’t deliver. Openness of key contracting information is essential to allow us to hold governments to account, and ensure that public money is used for public good.”

Gavin Hayman, Executive Director of Global Witness, said:

“One set of secret deals signed by the DRC government with obscure companies may have cost that state twice its annual education and health budget. Secrecy in how contracts are handed out and what they say robs citizens of the ability to know who got the contract, how they won and whether it was a good deal for their country”

Rueben Lifuka, board member of Transparency International, said:

“Secret contracts are never about public interest and only serve as conduits to satisfy the selfish interests of a few. Giving relevant information about public contracts to government entities, parliaments and civil society contributes to a more stable investment environment, and allows good governance and the rule of law to prevail.”

If you support the aims of the campaign please sign the petition at

Help us make some noise about the campaign by tweeting on #SecretContracts or blogging about the issues.

If you’d like to be more involved with the campaign, get in touch with contact [at] stopsecretcontracts [dot] org

For more quotes and details, see our press release.

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