Support Us

You are browsing the archive for Uncategorized.

The OKFestival keynote excitement begins!

Megan McGrattan - June 16, 2014 in Events, Featured, OKFestival, Uncategorized

This is a cross-post from the OKFestival blog, see the original here

The time is now. The time is today!

If you haven’t already, it’s time to buy your tickets because today, we announce the names of our four amazing keynote speakers!

This year, we have the pleasure of welcoming this stellar line-up of activists, experts, founders, leaders and visionaries who have each impacted the world as we know it in significant ways; pushing forward reform, demanding accountability, increasing transparency and creating new points of contact between governments and their people – to name but a few of their achievements!

We’re delighted to be able to confirm that these incredible speakers will be opening both full days of the festival and we hope that their ideas and stories will inspire you to think harder, make better and connect more during the discussions and activities which will follow later each day.

We’ll be letting you know more about each of our Keynote’s talks throughout this week, with a daily drop including their bios, their keynote details and some stellar prep material you can watch to get you excited about how incredible it will be to see this lot live!

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, later this week we’ll let you in on an extra special addition to this line-up, so stay tuned to Twitter for hints on who it might be and tuned to our site for in-the-moment updates! Don’t miss out, OKFestival is the best place to be Open this summer!

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 12.18.41

Neelie Kroes Vice President & EU Commissioner for Digital Agenda, European Commission

Neelie Kroes is currently Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe. Since 2004, she has worked as one of the 27 European Commissioners aiming to maintain a peaceful and prosperous Europe. From 2004 to 2009, she was Competition Commissioner, responsible for ensuring a level playing field for business in Europe. In 2010, she became Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe. This portfolio includes ensuring trust and security for the Internet and new technologies; building world-class European research and innovation in this sector; and above all getting every European Digital, with access to fast broadband, so Europe can make the most out of the Internet to support a strong economy and society.

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 11.50.23

Patrick Alley Founder of Global Witness and a member of the WEF Global Agenda Council for Conflict prevention.

Patrick Alley is a director of Global Witness and co-founded the organisation in 1993. He took part in Global Witness’ first investigations into the Thai-Khmer Rouge timber trade in 1995, and since then has taken part in over fifty field investigations in South East Asia, Africa and Europe, and in subsequent advocacy activities. Patrick has focused on natural resource governance issues in resource-rich countries, including post-conflict, including Cambodia, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Zimbabwe, and focuses on the thematic issue of Conflict Resources, and on forest and land issues, especially challenging industrial scale logging and land grabbing in the tropics. Patrick is involved in the strategic leadership of Global Witness, and is a member of the WEF Global Agenda Council for Conflict prevention.

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 11.39.35

Eric Hysen Director of Google’s elections and civic engagement products and programs, creator of tools for Harvard Institute of Politics designed to drive youth voter turnout through social media.

Eric manages Google’s elections and civic engagement products and programs. His team has launched tools that have helped hundreds of millions of people vote and engage in the political process in over 25 countries, including India, Kenya, Germany, Australia, the US, Mexico, and Egypt. Eric’s team recently launched the Google Civic Information API to make it easier for developers to build useful new civic apps. Prior to joining Google in 2009, Eric built tools to drive youth voter turnout through social media at the Harvard Institute of Politics. Eric holds a BA with honors in Computer Science from Harvard College, and has published research on using advanced crowdsourcing techniques to solve complex problems.

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 12.21.39

Beatriz Busaniche Founder of Wikimedia Argentina and key member of Argentina’s Fundacion Via Libre

Beatriz Busaniche is a member of the Fundacion Via Libre and is also a founding member of Wikimedia Argentina, local chapter of Wikimedia Foundation. She has a Mass Communication Degree from National University of Rosario, and is currently a part time professor at Social Sciences Faculty, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. She’s preparing her Master Degree on Intellectual Property at FLACSO Argentina.

Join us!

The Open Knowledge Festival 2014 invites you to come and learn from these experts; to hear their thoughts, share their ideas and discuss the progress that we can make towards a more Open world when we work together. Come and join the conversation at OKFestival 2014, knowing that when you leave, it will be with more inspiration, more connections and more conviction than you might have imagined possible.

See you next month!

Financial aid allocation completed for OKFestival 2014

Megan McGrattan - June 16, 2014 in Events, OKFestival, Uncategorized

This is a cross-post from the OKFestival blog, see the original here

OKFestival collaboration

Thank you to everyone who applied for Financial Aid this year – we so appreciate your patience while we’ve worked hard with various partners and sponsors to allocate funding.

Over the past few weeks we’ve been reaching out to successful applicants so while we’re incredible excited to welcome those who were successful to OKFestival, we are also very sad to have to confirm that if you haven’t heard from us at this point, you’ll need to look elsewhere for funding. We were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm shown by all those who applied for help to attend this year’s OKFestival – over 400 people requested support – and it’s taken quite some time to work through all of these applications and to calculate travel and accommodation funds.

If you’re unsuccessful this time around, we’d like to encourage you to, at the very least, take part from afar; we do try to make the festival as inclusive as possible and we will be livestreaming the keynote talks and interviews, and radio broadcasting much more amazing material – keep your eyes open for more information soon on that! There is also an etherpad for every session, so follow along and find the ways you can get involved with individual sessions and workshops. You can check out the individual session pages for details of the session facilitators and email them or contribute questions to their etherpads!

Allocation of financial aid was determined by a balance of factors, not least the generous donations made by our sponsors. So please join us in thanking Google, Omidyar, Make All Voices Count and Partnership for Open Data for their vital contributions to this year’s event.

Save the date: OKFestival Community Session

Katelyn Rogers - June 4, 2014 in Events, Meetups, OKFestival, Open Knowledge international Local Groups, Uncategorized

Open Knowledge community

Save the Date: We are thrilled to announce that the Open Knowledge community is organising a community session on Tuesday July 15th, 2014 from 1pm – 4pm, before the festival officially starts. This will be taking place at the OKFestival Venue, situated in the Prenzlauer Berg district of Berlin.

We are delighted that so many community members will be in Berlin this summer and are pleased to have the opportunity to bring everyone together to reflect on the opportunities and challenges we face as the Open Knowledge community. Christian (International Community Manager at Open Knowledge) and myself will be helping by taking care of the logistics but the session and its agenda is completely community driven! Rayna Stamboliyska, co-founder of Open Knowledge France and the main initiative-taker behind this session, already volunteered to help lead this but she would love to get help from 2-3 community members (write to local @ okfn . org and we’ll connect you).

Outreach will be made to all of you over the coming days for ideas for the session. Already, people have suggested topics such as:

  • Mechanisms for providing better support and follow up to local groups and ambassadors.
  • Developing mentorship opportunities and peer-to-peer support within the community.
  • Discussing the different challenges, depending on local contexts and more globally how do we root more of some shape of organized effort in the Global South.

We are thus expecting a great deal of ideas, proposals and topics to discuss. We have decided to let the discussion of topics happen over the next week or 10 days in order for everyone to chime in. We’ll then organise the input and set up a community call to finalise and strategise the program of the session.

In summary: Help brainstorm more issues to discuss and put together the agenda and other details. As the Open Knowledge community grows and diversifies, it is important that we get together and address opportunities and challenges but also take advantage of these rare moments to enjoy each others company!

Photo CC-BY by Volker Atüeras Gäng

Open Knowledge Foundation Spain becomes an official Chapter

Theodora Middleton - February 25, 2014 in Featured, OK Spain, Open Knowledge international Local Groups, Uncategorized

We are really pleased to announce that Spain has become the latest Chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation.

Celebration of Light: Spain

Last night, during the inaugural I OKFN awards, organised by Open Knowledge Foundation Spain, the group announced to a packed room of open data advocates, government representatives, and community members that they have become an official Chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation. The awards ceremony was established by Open Knowledge Foundation Spain to recognise the incredible efforts of individuals and groups around the world in open data, open knowledge and transparency. It therefore provided the perfect opportunity to recognise the incredible efforts of the group themselves, by announcing their transition to Chapter status.


Getting to this point has taken a whole lot of work from a whole lot of people. With 50 paying members, and over 200 people on their mailing list, the organisation has deep community foundations. Around 1000 people have attended events organised by the Chapter in the last year, all of whom have helped bring them to this exciting stage. The group has developed amazingly fast, having only been established around a year ago, which is a testament to the immense dedication and determination of those involved.

The Chapter is strongly committed to transparency and openness within its own organisational structures. They have developed a format – “transparencia radical” or “extreme transparency” – which lays out best practices and mechanisms for ensuring genuine accountability and openness, and which aims to be reproducible and applicable in many contexts. Their board meetings are also open – you can view the video from November’s meeting here – and they aim for real time accounting transparency. In sum, Open Knowledge Foundation Spain has genuine participation and openness baked into its core, in a way which will undoubtedly be inspirational for other groups around the world.

Juan Lopez

The new Chapter have tonnes of exciting stuff coming up over the coming months. They have built a dynamic data journalism community in Spain, and will be hosting a major data journalism event in May, Periodismo Datos, as well as bringing out a new edition of the Data Journalism handbook in April. They are keen to support and collaborate with other Open Knowledge Foundation groups, particularly those in Spanish-speaking countries. Having already translated and launched a Spanish language version of the School of Data, Escuela de Datos, they hope to continue strengthening and growing the movement for open knowledge abroad as well as at home. Do get in touch with them for more details.

mar cabra

Rufus Pollock, founder of the Open Knowledge Foundation, spoke to the attendees at the awards ceremony by video, saying:

“This is a great moment. We are delighted to recognise Open Knowledge Foundation Spain in this way. It is a really significant recognition of their achievement, their sustainability, and what they’ve already achieved within the community. It is brilliant to see the interconnection and flow of ideas between the Chapters, and Spain will undoubtedly inspire many others.”

Alberto Abella, President of the Open Knowledge Foundation Spain said:

“Many thanks to the team and all the members of the Open Knowledge Foundation Spain. Without their strong co-operation and dedication this would not have been possible. And of course, the best is yet to come in 2014!”

Images from top to bottom: Eduard Ereza and Jorge Martin, developers sued by local governments for using data from local webs to create apps; Juan Lopez de Uralde, Leader of the political party EQUO; and Mar Cabra, Vicepresident of Open Knowledge Foundation Spain.

Open Knowledge Foundation Newsletter, December 2013

Elaine Shaughnessy - December 2, 2013 in Newsletter, Uncategorized

Sign up here for monthly news to your inbox.


Hello and welcome to our latest news update on what is happening in and around the Open Knowledge Foundation. As we approach our 10th anniversary, we are reflecting on the open movement over the last decade and planning for the opportunities and challenges ahead. We are asking all of you what you think and to contribute to our community-wide survey to help us shape our future. Planning has also started for OKFestival in Berlin and now is the time to be thinking about how you would like to participate and what ideas, projects and contributions you can make to create an amazing event.

For the most up-to-the-minute info on all things Open, follow us on Twitter and on the blog.

And read our monthly Global community stories for more news – two this month: stories from Greece, Bangladesh, Argentina and Canada and Ireland and Germany.


Community Survey – share your thoughts!

What does Open Knowledge mean to you? Why are you involved? We are excited to be running our first survey to find out what you think. Help us shape the future of the Open Knowledge Foundation – we value your input. There are 24 questions and it will take approximately 10 minutes of your time. Deadline for responses is December 14, 2013 17:00 GMT. If you would like to know more, read our blogpost. We will share the results and follow-up actions in January 2014. Thank you.

OK Festival _crop

OKFestival 2014, 15-18 July, Berlin – get involved!

The Open Knowledge Festival will gather open-powered communities, projects and individuals, both experienced and newcomers, from all around the world. Now is the time to get ready and we invite you to start meeting up, in person and online to think about what amazing projects and ideas you would like to participate in, and what contributions you can make. A new website will be ready soon and we will shortly call for proposals to shape the agenda together. More information is on our blog. Follow @OKFestival, share ideas and questions using the hashtag #OKFestival or write to us, and sign up for the festival newsletter for all upcoming OKFestival news. Get meeting, sharing and making!


Making news

We have signed a MoU with the BBC, a great step for openness. The first joint initiative will be with Wikimedia in January to coordinate the first ever “speakerthon”. Using the BBC’s vast radio archive, participants will tag and select snippets of notable individuals’ voices in order to upload them to Wikipedia articles as open content. More information.

The Open Knowledge Foundation has also joined more than 30 civil society organisations to sign an open letter urging for greater transparency around the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. It calls for an equal level of participation for policy makers, civil society, and members of the public with that of industry representatives.

We congratulate **Rufus Pollock for being elected an Ashoka Fellow** “the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs – men and women with system changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems.” Rufus says that he is “honoured to accept the fellowship, but what is really exciting is seeing the work of the Open Knowledge Foundation on open data and open knowledge being recognised as a key aspect in driving positive social change in the twenty-first century”.

Spending Stories is officially launched! This new app helps citizens and journalists understand and compare financial data from news stories. If you would like to know more about the project, get in touch.

A new partnership has been announced between the French Ministry of Culture and Communication and the Open Knowledge Foundation France to map the Public Domain in France. The Guardian has called the Public Domain Review a ‘model of digital curation’ which showcases ‘the best and quirkiest texts, images and films the internet has to offer’. Check out the new PDR store with a selection of beautiful prints, t-shirts and other great gifts.

Crisis mappers NairobiBZay_O6IUAANCJq.jpg large

Making a difference

What does open data / open knowledge have to do with crisis mapping? Crowd-sourced digital maps created by online volunteers worldwide are powerful tools in humanitarian relief work. Volunteers worked 24/7 when Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) hit the Philippines. At the International Conference of Crisis Mappers (ICCM) in Nairobi, Kenya, the School of Data hosted a full day pre-conference training session as part of the mentorship programme. To learn more read the blog report.

Our “Follow the Money” website was launched at the Open Government Partnership Summit and you can read about it and also follow the livestreamed panel discussion. If you are interested in using information about public money to hold decision-makers to account, then we hope you’ll join us and sign up.

The recent event which brought together a group of open education enthusiasts has resulted in the building of an Open Education Timeline. The timeline has now been ‘put online’ using TimeMapper and we need your help to ensure that includes all the most important dates and consists of good quality data! We’d like to make it the the most comprehensive Open Education Timeline to date! If you are interested in contributing then take a look at our post.

Enter the LinkedUp “Vidi” Competition, the second second competition in the LinkedUp Challenge. We’re inviting you to design and build innovative and robust prototypes that use open data for educational purposes. There are prizes to be won and we can offer support. Find out more on the LinkedUp Challenge website.

Coming up

  • Open Knowledge Foundation India is celebrating December as open knowledge month! If you’re in the area, join them.
  • Learn how opening data can transform society and how to do it, at a one-day introductory course on Friday, 6 December in London – there are a few places left.
  • Join the School of Data online Data Expedition to investigate the Nigerian extractives industry on December 7 with OpenOil. There is still time time to register.

Images: symbol by Natalie Swencki, CC-BY; OKFestival CC-BY; School of Data session at ihub for ICCM, CC-BY.

Open Knowledge Foundation and BBC sign Memorandum of Understanding

Sam Leon - November 27, 2013 in Press, Uncategorized

On Monday of this week, the Open Knowledge Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding with the BBC. The BBC also signed separate memorandums with the Europeana Foundation, the Open Data Institute and the Mozilla Foundation.

Laura James, CEO of the Open Knowledge Foundation, signs the MoU with James Purnell, BBC Director of Strategy and Digital.

The signing is an important step in cementing the relationship between the Open Knowledge Foundation and one of the world’s largest broadcasting organisations. It also marks a new commitment on the part of the BBC to embrace open data and open standards. James Purnell, Director of Strategy and Digital at the BBC, said that this memorandum signalled that the BBC was “here for audience’s interests and not just the BBC’s” and that through it the BBC plans to find “find new ways to engage audiences”.

The signing ceremony was a formal recognition of the work the five organisations had done together and paved the way for future collaborations, some of which are already in the pipeline. In January 2014, for instance, the Open Knowledge Foundation, alongside the BBC and the Wikimedia community, will be coordinating the first ever “speakerthon”. Using the BBC’s vast radio archive, participants will tag and select snippets of notable individuals’ voices in order to upload them to Wikipedia articles as open content. Developers at the BBC are keen to use the crowdsourced data to tag other parts of the archive and automatically identify where else a given individual is speaking. This initiative is a great demonstration of the kind of benefit open data and open content can have for an organisation like the BBC. It allows them to simultaneously use their rich digital archive to improve existing open resources like Wikipedia, whilst developing new and innovative ways to harness the power of their audiences to improve their own digital assets (in this case through crowdsourced voice identification).

Collaborations like the “speakerthon”, which enable audiences to be contributors as well as consumers of broadcast media, can be a cause for concern for cultural institutions, especially those like the BBC which were born in the heyday of industrial one-way broadcasting. I commend the BBC for taking these first steps to re-configuring the traditional relationship it has with its audiences in allowing them a more participatory role.

That is not to say that the idea of open is somehow alien to the BBC, quite the opposite. The BBC has a long history of supporting technological innovation and using the benefits it bring to improve access to information. Indeed, in its Charter the BBC sets two of its central purposes: “to sustain citizenship and civil society” and “to help to deliver to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies”. In signing the memorandum of understanding on Monday, the BBC is affirming that it sees open data, open content and open standards as the key to connecting these two principles that are so deeply entrenched in its DNA.

As Bill Thompson, Head of Partnership Development at the BBC archive, said on Monday the memorandum marks only the first step in a long conversation between the five organisations. The challenge is to turn these words into actions and concrete collaborations that will unlock the potential of the BBC’s vast archive of culturally and historically-significant material.

What kind of collaborations between the BBC and the Open Knowledge Foundation would you like to see? What do you think are the possibilities for audience participation and technological innovation using open data at the BBC? Send us your ideas in the comments.

PRESS RELEASE: BBC signs Memorandum of Understanding with the Open Knowledge Foundation

Global Community Stories #6 (a): Greece, Bangladesh, Argentina and Canada

Christian Villum - November 27, 2013 in Featured, Open Knowledge international Local Groups, Uncategorized

It is once again time to take a trip around the world and hear a bit about some of the great things that are happening in our growing network of Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups. Due to the sheer volume of activities and updates we want to share this month, our Global Community Stories post is coming to you in two instalments. Today, we’ll set our virtual feet down in Greece, Bangladesh, Canada and Argentina and later in the week we will share updates from Germany, Ireland and others.

Bangladesh: Afterthought from OKCon, Wikipedia collaboration, impressive media coverage and lots of events…

After participating in OKCon, the Open Knowledge Conference in Geneva in September, our Bangladeshi friends wrote an article about the experience. The article was published as lead story in Bangla newspaper The Daily Prohom Alo (the highest circulated paper & leading bangla IT portal). Well done!

Also on the event side the group has been really active; they celebrated Software Freedom Day (SFD) by organizing a seminar about open source & open knowledge. Shortly after, the group organized a meetup as part of the global celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the GNU open software license. In late October they joined the Online Data Expedition on October 18-20 on Garment Factories around the world. This data expedition was arranged in collaboration with School of Data.

In other news our Ambassador in Bangladesh, Nurunnaby Chowdhury Hasive, was recently elected as Administrator of Bangla Wikipedia, which was covered in among other The Daily Star and C News Voice. Open Knowledge Foundation Bangladesh also partnered with Society for the Popularization of Science, Bangladesh (SPSB) recently and will onwards organize events and other activities together – for instance children science congresses.

Greece: Organizing app-competitions and improving the web presence…

Our Greek friends most recently held their first event as part of the Apps4Greece series in the city of Thessaloniki (see the presentation slides here – and plans are now being made to expand to other cities. Last week all co-organizers of the event participated in a press conference, where also Open Knowledge Foundation’s Sander van der Waal took part and gave a presentation. Several blog posts and publications newspapers documented the event, among other this one from the Karfitsa newspaper. Next the group is working on a complete overhaul of their website and project portfolio, stay tuned!

Argentina: Doing presentations across the country, working with School of Data and helping develop crisis situation software…

Our Argentinean friends did a School of Data presentation in August at Hacks Hackers Buenos Aires in the good company of journalists, programmers and designers from three continents. Later, in September, they held a Open Spending Meetup that was visited by Open Knowledge Foundation old-timer and Knight-Mozilla Fellow Friedrich Lindenberg – which was followed later that month by a presentation at the Buenos Aires Institute of Technology and University of La Plata. Lastly, they presented at the International Conference of Free Software in Technopolis.

The group has also started collaborations with other organizations such as Chequeado; a platform where the public discuss, study and verify president’s political speeches. The collaboration aims to put together a neat database and an application that makes it easier for citizens to engage. Further, on the project side, the group has been working on School of Data with Mexico. They set up workshops that teach how to use open data tools: Every Wednesday a specialist hosts a workshop on tools such as Open Refine, d3.js display, Timeliner, Github, Fusiontable and more. The group is also helping with the Citizen Emergency project: An application that alerts citizens in disaster situations such as during floods. Next step is to help develop the application towards a national implementation.

Canada: Starting the group, hosting meetups, contributing very actively to the Open Data Census…

Back in July, the group held Open Data Canada Meetup #1, which was dedicated to starting up the local group in Canada and was attended by around 30 people. Read some of the follow-up blog posts here and here.

The group has also very actively been contributing to the Open Data Census as part of both the sprint leading up to the G8 meeting in North Ireland in June, but also as part of the bigger sprint leading up to the Open Government Partnership Summit in London in October – shortly before which we released the Open Data Index.

They have also been supporting the research project across Canada by co-organizing a meetup for Québec with Dr. Renée Sieber (McGill University, Montréal) and Dr. Stéphane Roche (Université Laval, Québec City) – read more about that here and here.

Furthermore, they have been supporting the Popolo project to develop open government data specifications, focusing on the legislative branch of government, while remaining useful to a broad set of use cases.

Support has also been given to the use of an Open Agenda about Free-Open-Libre within an Agenda aggregator, the Agenda du Libre by Lastly, the group has promoted the CKAN open source data handling platform, which has subsequently been integrated into the City of Montréal Open Data Portal that launched just a few weeks ago. One of our Canadian Ambassadors, Diane Mercier, is the City of Montréal Open Data Project Manager.

Global Open Data Initiative moving forward

Christian Villum - October 4, 2013 in Featured, Open Government Data, Uncategorized

(This is a cross-post from the Global Open Data Initiative blog.)

The Global Open Data Initiative is a coalition of civil society organisations working together in the area of open government data and open government.

Our basic goal is that citizens will have full and open access to the government data that is needed in order to build effective government and governance.

The Global Open Data Initiative will serve as a guiding voice internationally on open data issues. Civil society groups who focus on open data have often been isolated to single national contexts, despite the similar challenges and opportunities repeating themselves in countries across the globe. The Global Open Data Initiative aims to help share valuable resources, guidance and judgment, and to clarify the potential for government open data across the world.

Provide a leading vision for how governments approach open data. Open data commitments are among the most popular commitments for countries participating in the Open Government Partnership. The Global Open Data Initiative recommendations and resources will help guide open data initiatives and others as they seek to design and implement strong, effective open data initiatives and policies. Global Open Data Initiative resources will also help civil society actors who will be evaluating government initiatives.

Increase awareness of open data. Global Open Data Initiative will work to advance the understanding of open data issues, challenges, and resources by promoting best practices, engaging in online and offline dialogue, and supporting networking between organizations both new and familiar to the open data arena.

Support the development of the global open data community especially in civil society. Civil society organizations (CSOs) have a key role to play as suppliers, intermediaries, and users of open data, though at present, relatively few organizations are engaging with open data and the opportunities it presents. Most CSOs lack the awareness, skills and support needed to be active users and providers of open data in ways that can help them meet their goals. The Global Open Data Initiative aims to help CSOs, to engage with and use open data whether whatever area they work on – be it climate change, democratic rights, land governance or financial reform.

Our immediate focus is on two activities:

  1. To consult with members of the CSO community around the world about what they think is important in this area
  2. Develop a set of principles in collaboration with the CSO community to guide open government data policies and approaches and to help initiate, strengthen and further elevate conversations between governments and civil society.

Watch this space for further updates.

Join the conversation

To get involved join the Global Open Data Initiative discussion group:

Visit this group

Principles for Open Contracting

Guest - June 24, 2013 in Featured Project, Open Standards, Uncategorized

The following guest post is by the Open Contracting Partnership, announcing the release of their Principles for Open Contracting. It is cross-posted from their website.


Over the past year, the Open Contracting Partnership has facilitated a global consultation process to create a set of global principles that can serve as a guide for all of those seeking to advance open contracting around the world.

The principles reflect norms and best practices from around the world related to disclosure and participation in public contracting.

They have been created with the inputs and feedback of nearly 200 members the open contracting community from government, private sector, civil society, donor organizations, and international financial institutions. These collaborators contributed inputs from various sector-specific perspectives (such as service delivery, infrastructure, extractive industries, and land).

The Open Contracting Partnership welcomes all your questions, comments or feedback. Please contact us at


Preamble: These Principles reflect the belief that increased disclosure and participation in public contracting will have the effects of making contracting more competitive and fair, improving contract performance, and securing development outcomes. While recognizing that legitimate needs for confidentiality may justify exemptions in exceptional circumstances, these Principles are intended to guide governments and other stakeholders to affirmatively disclose documents and information related to public contracting in a manner that enables meaningful understanding, effective monitoring, efficient performance, and accountability for outcomes. These Principles are to be adapted to sector-specific and local contexts and are complementary to sector-based transparency initiatives and global open government movements.

Affirmative Disclosure

  1. Governments shall recognize the right of the public to access information related to the formation, award, execution, performance, and completion of public contracts.
  2. Public contracting shall be conducted in a transparent and equitable manner, in accordance with publicly disclosed rules that explain the functioning of the process, including policies regarding disclosure.
  3. Governments shall require the timely, current, and routine publication of enough information about the formation, award, execution, performance, and completion of public contracts to enable the public, including media and civil society, to understand and monitor as a safeguard against inefficient, ineffective, or corrupt use of public resources. This would require affirmative disclosure of:
    1. Contracts, including licenses, concessions, permits, grants or any other document exchanging public goods, assets, or resources (including all annexes, schedules and documents incorporated by reference) and any amendments thereto;
    2. Related pre-studies, bid documents, performance evaluations, guarantees, and auditing reports.
    3. Information concerning contract formation, including:
      1. The planning process of the procurement;
      2. The method of procurement or award and the justification thereof;
      3. The scope and specifications for each contract;
      4. The criteria for evaluation and selection;
      5. The bidders or participants in the process, their validation documents, and any procedural exemptions for which they qualify;
      6. Any conflicts of interest uncovered or debarments issued;
      7. The results of the evaluation, including the justification for the award; and
      8. The identity of the contract recipient and any statements of beneficial ownership provided;
    4. Information related to performance and completion of public contracts, including information regarding subcontracting arrangements, such as:
      1. General schedules, including major milestones in execution, and any changes thereto;
      2. Status of implementation against milestones;
      3. Dates and amounts of stage payments made or received (against total amount) and the source of those payments;
      4. Service delivery and pricing;
      5. Arrangements for ending contracts;
      6. Final settlements and responsibilities;
      7. Risk assessments, including environmental and social impact assessments;
      8. Assessments of assets and liabilities of government related to the contract;
      9. Provisions in place to ensure appropriate management of ongoing risks and liabilities; and
      10. Appropriate financial information regarding revenues and expenditures, such as time and cost overruns, if any.
  4. Governments shall develop systems to collect, manage, simplify and publish contracting data regarding the formation, award, execution, performance and completion of public contracts in an open and structured format, in accordance with the Open Contracting Data Standards as they are developed, in a user-friendly and searchable manner.
  5. Contracting information made available to the public shall be as complete as possible, with any exceptions or limitations narrowly defined by law, ensuring that citizens have effective access to recourse in instances where access to this information is in dispute.
  6. Contracting parties, including international financial institutions, shall support disclosure in future contracting by precluding confidentiality clauses, drafting confidentiality narrowly to cover only permissible limited exemptions, or including provisions within the contractual terms and conditions to allow for the contract and related information to be published.

  7. Participation, Monitoring, and Oversight
  8. Governments shall recognize the right of the public to participate in the oversight of the formation, award, execution, performance, and completion of public contracts.
  9. Governments shall foster an enabling environment, which may include legislation, that recognizes, promotes, protects, and creates opportunities for public consultation and monitoring of public contracting, from the planning stage to the completion of contractual obligations.
  10. Governments shall work together with the private sector, donors, and civil society to build the capacities of all relevant stakeholders to understand, monitor and improve public contracting and to create sustainable funding mechanisms to support participatory public contracting.
  11. Governments have a duty to ensure oversight authorities, including parliaments, audit institutions, and implementing agencies, to access and utilize disclosed information, acknowledge and act upon citizen feedback, and encourage dialogue and consultations between contracting parties and civil society organizations in order to improve the quality of contracting outcomes.
  12. With regard to individual contracts of significant impact, contracting parties should craft strategies for citizen consultation and engagement in the management of the contract.

OKFestival Topics of 2012 Announced, 2nd Call for Proposals Published, Experimentation Encouraged!

Kat Braybrooke - May 15, 2012 in Events, Featured, News, OK Finland, OKFest, Open Knowledge international Local Groups, Uncategorized

OKFestival 2012 Organising Team

For those looking for yet another reason to join us for OKFestival in Helsinki this September, the OKFestival Core Organising Team is proud to announce the inspiring public outcomes of our unconventional First Call for Proposals – and to request your participation for our Second Call to share your ideas in Finland.

As we’ve noted previously, because OKFestival is the first event of its kind, combining Open Knowledge Conference and Open Government Data Camp together for a week-long celebration of action and collaboration, we decided to take a risk by opening up over 2/3 of the week’s programme to you as festival participants.

So last month, we released the First Call for Proposals, crossing our fingers expectantly as we did it. A few of us on the Core Organising Team (photo) were, admittedly, a tad worried – would global communities rise to the challenge? Or would we be left alone in cyberspace without even a programme to our name? We presented the festival to audiences at FREE CITY in Tallinn, at Re:Publica in Berlin and to local stakeholders in Finland. And we waited in anticipation.

In the end, we didn’t have to worry at all. The response to our First Call for Proposals was both overwhelming and encouraging. Open knowledge and data enthusiasts around the world did take the reins – and now, a month later, we have a groundbreaking, action-focused programme planned in co-operation with citizen teams of Guest Programme Planners all over the world. For a summary of the Open Knowledge Festival planning process in 14 slides, see our first Slideshare presentation here.

As you’ll see above, the First Call for Proposals allowed the Core Organising Team to determine the most important themes and salient ideas, the subjects of which are highlighted through our 13 guest-organised Topic Streams of 2012:

  1. Open Democracy and Citizen Movements
  2. Open Government Data
  3. Open Cities
  4. Open Design, Hardware & Manufacturing
  5. Open Cultural Heritage
  6. Open Development
  7. Open Research and Education
  8. Open Geodata
  9. Open Source Software
  10. Data Journalism and Data Visualization
  11. Gender / Diversity in Openness
  12. Open Business and Corporate Data
  13. Open Knowledge and Sustainability

The breadth of these topics is quite diverse – indeed, the variance is somewhat unprecedented for an event of this kind. Going through the topics above and learning more about how their Guest Programme Planners are determining the programming on the Public Planning Wiki, it’s hard not to feel a sense of excitement about what’s to come.

For the Second (and last!) Call for Proposals, we encourage ideas that further enrich each of these themes with new perspectives. We want your lightning talks, lectures, panel discussions, workshops, hackathons and all things in between. Let’s fill Helsinki’s streets with innovative new ideas, new collaborations between civil society and government, and new projects that provoke openness in unexpected ways.

It is our hope that together, these themes will illustrate the importance of diverse understandings within open knowledge and open data communities – and we look forward to seeing even more of you get involved in this inspiring process.

The Second Call for Proposals is here. Deadline for submission is June 1st – go to for details. And feel free to mix and remix the Slideshare presentation above for your own uses – it’s meant to be shared!

Core Organising Team at work in Helsinki

Get Updates