Everything you need to know.

Can’t find the answers you’re looking for? Check out the Lift Applicant Handbook, get in touch on our Slack channel, check-in our office hours, or simply reach out to us at info@open-contracting.org. We will add questions here as we receive them so make sure to check back.

What makes a good application?

The best applications will start with a very specific goal or problem that relates to improving the quality of service delivery. You might want to improve the quality of food purchases, improve the reliability of public transport, or make public buildings better. Or, you might aim to give more contracting opportunities to women- or minority-owned businesses. In your application, be as specific as possible about how better contracting processes will help you achieve these goals.

Note that Lift is not for general capacity building on open contracting. While trainings, workshops, and OCDS publication & tools are important, they cannot be the whole of your Lift project—they should just be a means to serve your goal.

Also, we encourage you to be very clear about how you will measure and track progress against your goals, e.g. the number of women-owned businesses who win contracts, feedback from residents about the quality of food or the cleanliness of public parks, infrastructure projects completed on time and within budget, etc.

What are the key questions that I should think about before submitting an application?

We require that you answer all questions and submit a complete application. To make your best application possible, focus especially on developing very concrete answers to these three questions:

  • How will you improve the quality of goods, works or services?
    Tip: Focus on a specific goal or problem and explain it. Think beyond implementing the OCDS, rolling out a new platform or tool, or running workshops. Tell us how open contracting will help you improve the quality of life or create more market opportunities in your context.
  • How will you use contracting data or information?
    Tip: Open contracting is all about sharing information in user-friendly ways with a wide range of stakeholders. Please explain which information and data your project will use or make open, and how.
  • Which concrete outcomes do you expect by the end of 2020?
    Tip: These outcomes should refer back to your project goal. Be as specific as possible, e.g. the number of women or minority-owned businesses that submit bids, the number of school buildings that got repairs based on community monitoring, etc.
I’m interested in applying. Can I get help with the application?

Yes! You can receive more guidance on applying to Lift in four ways:

Can I apply in a language other than English?

Yes. We will accept applications in Spanish, French, and English.

Can I submit more than one project?

Yes, but we recommend that you only submit one application per team, and focus on a project that aims to improve the quality of a public service, work, or good (as opposed to OCDS implementation).

At what stage or scale should my project be to apply? Does it have to be an idea, prototype, or MVP? Should it be focused locally or globally?

Lift is open to projects at different stages of development and scale. You could be embarking on a new initiative, or working to refine and scale a piloted solution. We require that your project has leadership support, which might include a budget for your work, a political champion, or a formal mandate. You could also be solving problems in your region, country, or city. Your project does not need to be able to scale globally.

Are there any sectors or topics Lift is particularly interested in?

No, we are open to a wide range of sectors. For example, your focus could be on education, health, infrastructure, or transportation. You qualify for Lift as long as you are working to improve the quality of a public service, work, or good through increased openness in procurement, regardless of sector.

Can my project be for implementing the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS)?

We are looking for projects that go beyond implementing OCDS. Your project should be focused on improving a public good, work, or service and using the OCDS as a tool to achieve that goal.

If your focus is solely on implementing OCDS, Lift is not for you. But please reach out to our helpdesk at data@open-contracting.org who is happy to support anyone interested in implementing OCDS.

Is adopting and/or implementing OCDS required to be eligible for the program?

No, but we do expect that your reform initiative involves making information or data more accessible. Lift can provide support in implementing the Open Contracting Data Standard if it is part of your project.

Want to learn more about OCDS? Visit the OCP website for information and resources.

How can I be sure my team is the right fit for this program?

This impact-oriented program is best suited for teams who are:

  1. Focused on improving the quality of public goods, works, or services,
  2. Experienced in engaging different stakeholders within a local public contracting process,
  3. Working on projects that have some degree of high-level buy-in, whether through allocated resources or a mandate from leadership, and
  4. Able and committed to investing the time required over the course of the 14-month program.

Open Contracting Lift is not for teams who only want support on tool development or Open Contracting Data Standard implementation.

For a full list of eligibility requirements, see the Lift Scoring Guidelines

How big should my team be and what key roles and skills should my team have to be successful in the program?

You should have a minimum of two people on your team (or three if your project involves a tech or data solution). However, we suggest you keep your teams to 3 to 10 people for easy management.

Applicant teams should include, at minimum:

  1. A field influencer who can navigate and build political buy-in. This person understands how decisions are made and how to influence change in government, but does not have to be from government.
  2. A bureaucracy navigator who knows how government works and can lead operational execution of a reform initiative.

If your project requires a technical solution, your team should also have a technical expert who can help build your solution.

Should my team be from one organization or a collaboration of multiple organizations?

Either! We welcome teams from one organization, but also those that represent collaborative partnerships.

How many teams will you select?

We will select 5 teams for Part 1 of the program, and 3 of those 5 teams will move onto Part 2.

How do you determine country eligibility? Are there any particular countries Lift is interested in?

Lift uses Reporters Sans Frontiers’ World Press Freedom Index 2019. Lift is open to countries deemed “Good”, “Satisfactory”, or “Problematic” by this index. Lift will not work in countries that are deemed to be in a “very serious situation” (color: black) according to the index.

Lift will consider working in countries that are deemed to be in a “difficult situation” (color: red) according to the index when applicants can demonstrate during the application process that there is collaboration amongst selected government and civil society actors and a partially safe space that civil society can work in.

We are not looking for any particular countries, but for a geographic spread so that the Lift cohort includes a diverse mix of contexts.

Can I apply even if I receive funding or support from elsewhere?

Yes, we welcome all types of projects, including those supported by other sources.

Are there any costs to participating in the program?

There is no financial cost to participate, though you will be expected to dedicate about 1 day per week of staff time to the program. Lift will cover all of your program-related travel expenses. All applicants should already have funding for project activities.

Is there funding available upon completion of the program?

Lift is not a funding or grant-giving program. But, participating teams will leave this process with a clear action plan to secure the resources needed to successfully implement their projects.

Where will the bootcamp be held?

We are currently planning for Mexico City, but the final decision will depend on where applicants are from and which location would be most feasible for their visas and travel.

Who are the advisors and experts?

Practitioners will be supported by a core team of advisors from OCP and Reboot who have extensive experience in building social and public contracting reforms. Your advisors will be selected based on your specific needs, and will help you apply best practices in areas such as user engagement, data use, contract design and management.

What can Lift help me achieve and what support will Lift offer my team?

We expect teams to achieve measurable impact by the end of the program, resulting in a higher quality public good, work, or service. This will be tracked by key performance indicators that are developed with participating teams in Part 1 of the program.

Along the way, we anticipate that most projects will make progress on the following outcomes:

  • Effectively build leadership support to drive a robust mandate for public contracting reforms that improve the delivery of public goods, works, and services.
  • Improve use of open data and open data systems to manage, monitor, and advance the quality of delivery of public goods, works, and services.
  • Establish new ways of working with public contracts to ensure contracting processes and contracts lead to intended results.

In Part 1, which takes place from October 2019 to January 2020, OCP will support five teams in learning how to identify strategic entry points, engage stakeholders, apply contracting practices to become more effective, and build robust reform strategies for implementation and monitoring impact.

In Part 2, which takes place from February to December 2020, three teams are chosen to receive hands-on, custom support as they build, test and embed best contracting practices in their contexts. The other two teams will continue to receive OCP support in implementing their projects.

Check out the Lift Applicant Handbook for more detail on how each part works and what support you can expect from OCP Lift.