BRIEF November 13, 2017

What’s the cost of open government reforms?

On October 25, 2017, the World Bank Group’s Open Government Global Solutions Group and Results for Development (R4D) launched “Priceless? A new framework for estimating the cost of open government reforms.” The publication is part of the Open Government Impact Research Consortium[1] which is producing a set of reports and tools that will allow government officials and development practitioners to understand the full costs associated with the adoption of open government reforms.

The launch event (a recording of which can be found here) convened specialists from across the World Bank, as well as the broader development community, to discuss a do-it-yourself costing methodology, and brainstorm ways in which this tool can be used to support cost-benefit analyses, and ultimately understand the true value of open government reforms.

Priceless draws on well-established studies in the public health, nutrition, and education sectors to develop a new framework and methodology for costing open government reforms. While governance interventions tend to be less straightforward than those in the health or education sectors in terms of measurable inputs and outputs, such reforms can nonetheless be broken down into various components, including salaries, travel, volunteer labor, and equipment to ultimately arrive at a full economic price tag for the reform program.

The report was based on three case studies: Ukraine’s open e-Procurement system ProZorro, Sierra Leone’s Open Data Program, and the Dominican Republic’s EDE Este 311 system. The research team plans to conduct more case studies, either on the same types of reform in different contexts or on other kinds of open government reforms, to further validate the costing framework and determine if the estimates of the original cases are broadly representative, or simply are outliers.

[1] Membership includes, the World Bank Open Government GSG, Results for Development (R4D), Open Government Partnership (OGP) Support Unit, Global Integrity, NYU GovLab, MIT Gov/Lab, EGAP, and the Brookings Institution.


About the Organizations

The Open Government Global Solutions Group is a new unit within the World Bank’s Governance Global Practice. The Group’s vision is to strengthen the Bank’s support to clients on implementing open government principles and reforms. The Group works in close collaboration with the Open Government Partnership and aims to help the Bank adopt a collaborative and integrated approach to open government.

Results for Development (R4D) is a non-profit organization that supports change agents in low- and middle-income countries to strengthen health, education, and nutrition systems. Leveraging a variety of technical approaches to problem solving, including governance and citizen engagement strategies, R4D collaborates with reformers both in and outside of government to transform knowledge into action and strengthen systems so they are self-sustaining, serve everyone, and deliver lasting results.