Everything you need to know.

Can’t find the answers you’re looking for? Check out the Lift Applicant Handbook or reach out to Kaye Sklar, Lift Program Manager. 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 using procurement to power an effective or inclusive recovery. You might want to improve the quality of school meals or school infrastructure, expand access to reliable public transportation, make public purchases more environmentally-friendly, or 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 or advocacy. While training, workshops, and OCDS publication and tools and advocacy 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 clear about how you will measure and track progress against your goals. For example, potential metrics might be 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. View the application questions here. To make the best application possible, focus especially on developing concrete answers to these four questions:

  • What is the problem that you are seeking to address through Lift? 
    • Tip: Focus on a specific goal or problem relating to the quality of public goods, works, or services, or access to opportunity. Explain how this problem relates to an inclusive and effective recovery from the pandemic. 
  • What is the solution to this problem?
    • Tip: Think beyond implementing the OCDS, rolling out a new platform or tool, or running workshops. Instead, explain what the future that you want to see is and the concrete outcomes you anticipate by the Lift program’s end in June of 2022.
  • What are your ‘powers’ to make change happen, and who in power will help you make this change happen? 
    • Tip: Lift is for teams that can achieve measurable improvements in public goods, works, and services or expand economic opportunity as part of supporting an inclusive and effective recovery. This requires that Lift teams have the power to make change. You might have to change regulations or policies, upgrade data or IT infrastructure or rethink processes - doing so often requires political buy-in and robust mandates for change. Consider what organizational strategies or key relationships that give you the power to pursue your work. 
  • Who is on your core team, and why are they involved?

Tip: Lift is for teams that have skills and represent the agencies or organizations that are integral for project success. For example, if your project is about improving the quality of public housing through procurement reform, it would be smart to have someone on the team who is from the public housing agency.

I’m interested in applying. Can I get help with the application?

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

  • Read the Lift Applicant Handbook
  • Attend one of the upcoming informational webinars, or watch the recordings of the first webinars 
  • Sign up for an office hour
  • Sign up to be notified of additional Q&As and resources 

Email Kaye Sklar

Can I apply in a language other than English?

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

Can I submit more than one project? No, we want you to bring us your best and sharpest idea.


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. You qualify for Lift as long as you are working for a more inclusive and effective recovery through increased openness in procurement, regardless of sector. For example, your focus could be on education, health, infrastructure, transportation, or expanding economic opportunity.

Can my project be for implementing the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) or OC4IDS?

We are looking for projects that go beyond implementing OCDS or OC4IDS. Your project should be focused on improving a public good, work, or service and using the OCDS as a tool to achieve that goal. However, implementing OCDS or OC4IDS may be one part of your project.

If your focus is solely on implementing OCDS or OC4IDS, 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 the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) or OC4IDS 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 OCDS or OC4IDS if it is part of your project.

Want to learn more about OCDS or OC4IDS? 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 building political support and navigating the procurement system,
  3. Working in a context with the technical infrastructure in place to deliver on their project, and
  4. Able and committed to investing the time required over the course of the 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 Apply.

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

Applicant teams should include, at minimum:

  1. Relationship Manager, who is skilled at navigating bureaucracy and building political buy-in,
  2. Procurement Expert, who has deep knowledge of the procurement system

In addition, one of your team members should be the Team Leader, who has the authority and capacity to coordinate the team and drive the project forward. If your project requires a technical solution, your team should also have a technical expert who can help build your solution.

We suggest you keep your teams to 3 to 10 people for easy management.

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

While we welcome teams from one organization, we are particularly interested in teams that represent collaborative partnerships. In the past we have seen that teams that bring together many diverse actors from different stakeholder groups and government agencies are more effective in achieving change.

How many teams will you select?

We will select up to 7 teams for the program.

Context / Country

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

Lift uses Reporters Sans Frontiers’ World Press Freedom Index 2020. Lift is open to countries deemed “Good,” “Satisfactory,” “Problematic,” or “Difficult” 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. 

Funding / Costs

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 to in-person Lift events. All applicants should already have funding for essential project activities and staff time.

Is there funding available upon completion of the program?

Participating teams are eligible for up to $30,000 USD of support to fund activities or deliverables depending on team needs and progress over the course of the program, as well as 200 hours of technical assistance and support from OCP. All funding decisions will be made in collaboration with the team and OCP Lift.

How the program works

Where will the Liftoff workshops be held?

We are currently planning to hold the kickoff workshop either remotely or in-person in your region, depending on health considerations. The second Liftoff workshop in October may be held either in-person in your region, or may be cohort-wide gathering in a location to be determined. The final decision will depend on where applicants are from and which location would be most feasible for their visas and travel, as well as if international travel is safe and feasible at that time.

Who are the advisors and experts?

Practitioners will be supported by a core team of advisors from OCP 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, change management, and contract design and management.

What can Lift help me achieve?

We expect teams to achieve measurable impact by the end of the program, resulting in a more inclusive and effective recovery. This will be tracked by key performance indicators that are developed with participating teams in the first phase 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 your project. 
  • Improve use of open data and open data systems to manage, monitor, and advance the quality of delivery of public goods, works, and services or expand access to opportunity. 
  • Establish new ways of working with public contracts to ensure contracting processes and contracts lead to intended results.

For inspiration, check out what other teams have achieved through Lift

Can I still benefit if I don’t participate?

Absolutely! Throughout the program, OCP will document any new tools, approaches, and progress stories that emerge. To benefit the wider field, we’ll share this guidance regularly though blogs and events. 

You can also receive support via OCP’s other resources and engagements. Learn more about these at OCP’s website.

Who is behind the Open Contracting Lift program?

The Open Contracting Partnership (OCP) is a silo-busting collaboration between government, business, civil society, and technologists to open up the documents and data behind government contracting and deal-making. We work across sectors and along the whole process of government contracting to save governments money and time, deliver better goods and services to citizens, and create a better business environment for all. Learn more at open-contracting.org.

What support will the Open Contracting Lift program offer my team?

During Part 1: Building Foundations, which takes place from July 2020 to September 2020, OCP will support your efforts to build strong reform plans that are grounded in user research and have strong buy-in from key stakeholders, as well as develop robust reform strategies for implementation and monitoring impact. 

During Part 2: Implementation, which takes place from October to December 2022, OCP will support your work to implement your plans, overcome barriers, and build deep institutional support for your reforms, as well as celebrate your progress along the way.  

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