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Guest blogpost first published 1 July on open-contracting.org

If you want to attend learn more about the program, webinars are taking place on 11 and 12 July. Learn more and join here

 By Kathrin Frauscher

Our new impact program ‘Lift’ launches today. I’d like to share a few thoughts on what it’s about, why we are doing it and invite you to apply.

In a nutshell, it’s an intensive support program to high performing reform teams to propel their projects toward systemic change.

When I was at the World Bank Group, I more or less stumbled upon procurement (probably not unlike many of you). Procurement almost always arose because there had been a massive failure: roads that were washed away by rain, medicines that never made it to the health clinic or were expired. I saw that good contracting could prevent these failures: it mattered what a government bought, from whom and how they worked together with communities to plan and deliver the best possible goods or services.

Diving deeper into the world of contracting though, I realized that procurement isn’t only a preventative tool, it can drive performance and innovation too. Open and better contracting can open doors to much better solutions for citizens in health, education, infrastructure, transit, and many other areas. It can create opportunities for many more, and more diverse companies.

But impactful public contracting reforms are difficult; they are hard work with lots of moving pieces. From our collaborations with many of you over the past four years as OCP, we’ve seen what works to get to more impact, more systematically. Politics, policy, sustained engagement and data all need to come together. Our new strategy focusses on how we are hoping to do that and Lift is the result of these insights.

Contracting initiatives need a specific goal and need to be embedded in larger reforms to lead to results that matter for citizens and improve their quality of life.

The reform team needs political coverage through a robust mandate that enables them to hack processes, systems and try new things to keep driving the reform and make sure it doesn’t get stuck in bureaucracy.

Contract design and management is key to put procurement to work to achieve better outcomes. Few vendors will read a 50-page contract full of legalese. It’s not surprising that contracts don’t deliver the expected results if they were either created without beneficiary feedback or if there is no performance management with vendors.

You need a team with different skill sets and to be agile in your implementation to keep your reform efforts going.

We heard loud and clear from our partners that they wanted more help on all these areas and that you wanted peers and experts to meet you where you are, on the frontline of making change happen in your countries.

So together with our partners at Reboot, we led a process of co-design with many of you to meet these needs with Lift. As the name suggests it’s a comprehensive, long-term, in-the-trenches support to lift up reform teams and to help them achieve real impact. At 14-months it’s the most intensive, long-term support we’ve offered to members of our community.

Your goal could be to use contracting to better serve:

  • Citizens by building safer roads, making buses run on time, stocking hospitals with the best medicines or hiring qualified school teachers.
  • Businesses by boosting opportunities for women’s, minority-owned or local businesses, delivering the highest quality products and services, saving time and hassle.
  • Government officials by encouraging innovation and better results, increasing competition and integrity, using data and insight for decision making, working more efficiently.

Lift will connect you with experts and peers who have led similar reforms, who are ready to share what worked for them and what they would not do again. They can’t fix your problems for you but they will try to find solutions with you and we will stay by your side as you try to adapt and implement them.

Reinventing contracting is as important for the U.S. or the city of London as it is for Indonesia, Nairobi or Buenos Aires. So, if you are a bold reformer, from government, civil society or business, who is transforming contracting to deliver better goods, works or services, then Lift can help you go further, faster.

To learn more, RSVP for our upcoming community calls on 11 July and 31 July.

Tell us about your ambitious reform project and apply at lift.open-contracting.org by 12 August.

Also, do you know others who could benefit? Please spread the word and share widely!