History of OCDS

The Open Contracting Global Principles encourage publishers to proactively disclose information and data on all stages of public contracting.

The Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) has been developed to allow information providers to share as much of this information as possible as structured, re-usable, standardized data.

Support and funding

The OCDS is a core product of the Open Contracting Partnership.

The 1.0 Release Candidate of a data specification, as part of the standard, was developed through a rapid prototyping project. The project was undertaken by the by the World Wide Web Foundation and World Bank, and supported by The Omidyar Network and the World Bank.

Final adoption, and future development and support for the specification is managed through the independent Open Contracting Partnership.

Development process

The development of the 1.0 Release Candidate specification took place through a year-long process of supply and demand-side research, and open consultation. This processes has included:

  • Assessing data currently supplied through contract portals - in order to understand the data that governments currently hold and publish, and how it is structured. To carry out this analysis we created the Contracting Data Comparison tool, and mapped the fields of data available from a wide range of existing government contracting data portals around the world.
  • Exploring demand for contracting data - through field work, interviews and online engagement with different communities and individuals who many use of contract information. The information needs of users were catalogued, and fed into the requirements for the specification structure and fields. We developed a series of priority use cases to guide implementation and adoption of the specification. Read the demand-side assessment
  • Iterative, open development - we offered transparency, and gained broad feedback to improve the specification by offering early releases for comment (alpha and beta) and by maintaining a public issue tracker. We engaged contracting, open-data, and other stakeholders through mailing lists and other online spaces. Finally, development sprints held at PyCon Montreal and PyCon Europe 2014 also actively contributed to the development of the specification.

Over 150 people have provided comments, feedback and input into the specification over the year of initial development.

The development process took place with reference to the Greentree Consensus Principles for Digital Development.

Development stages

The specification has moved through a number of stages.

  • research (November 2013 - May 2014) - User requirements gathered, and existing data supply explored. Technical options for the specification considered and consulted on.
  • alpha (June 2014) - An outline data model was shared, and high-level concepts outlined for consultation. Design of individual field-level specifications began.
  • beta (September 2014) - A proposed schema, including field-level definitions was put forward, and opened for consultation. The schema is ready for early-adopters to validate and pilot. Feedback suggested a number of substantial changes.
  • release candidate (November 2014) - The specification is close to its final form and out for final review. Changes will be minor, and any major proposals for change will be managed through extensions until the next version update process.
  • release (July 2015) - The initial version (1.0) was released with minor bug fixes.

At present, the OCDS specification is not submitted to any formal standards body, but this will be reviewed by the Open Contracting Partnership as part of future governance developments.

Future development

This is a living standard, and will continue to evolve based on the feedback of publishers and users.

Governance proposals for the future development of the Open Contracting Data Standard, including the technical specification and policies around its adoption are currently under development and proposals for governance will draw upon the Open Stand ‘Modern Paradigm for Standards’ which calls for openness, transparency and clearly set out process for change management.

Ongoing feedback and suggested improvements to OCDS can be provided through the issue trackers on GitHub.

Announcements about proposed updates to the specification, and periods for comment, will be made to the standard-discuss@open-contracting.org mailing list.