Priceless? A New Framework for Estimating the Cost of Open Government Reforms

“Open government” is a response to the belief that citizens have the right to access government information, to actively participate in government decisions that affect their lives, and to hold government officials and service providers to account. Interventions and policies that seek to open government to citizens and civil society have proliferated in the past decade.  However, given the reality of increasingly limited development resources from external funders, being able to weigh the full costs of open government initiatives is critical to ensuring that governments are allocating and using resources in the most efficient and effective manner possible, especially in low- and middle-income contexts.

This set of reports and tools was developed as part of a new initiative, led by Results for Development and supported by the World Bank, to contribute new evidence to this field. The Governance & Citizen Engagement practice at R4D designed and tested a tool that can be adapted and used to estimate the costs of a variety of open government programs in different countries.  The methodology developed through this initiative represents an important step toward conducting more sophisticated cost-benefit analyses – and ultimately understanding the true value – of open government reforms, insights that have been sorely lacking in the open government community to date.

The result of this initiative includes the following resources and analytical products:

  • A detailed and comprehensive Framework and Methods for costing various types of open government reforms;
  • Case Studies of applying that Framework and Methods to two real-life open government programs, the ProZorro e-procurement platform (Ukraine) and a national government Open Data Program (Sierra Leone);
  • A Costing Tool and Manual (in the form of a series of interlinked spreadsheets) that can be directly utilized by those interested in conducting costing analyses of additional open government programs on their own; and,
  • A Comprehensive Report that compiles the framework and methods, case studies, costing tool description, and conclusions from the overall initiative.

All of these resources are available to download using the links below.

Learn about the new costing method for open government initiatives:

Understand the cost estimates for specific open government initiatives:

Undertake your own costing analysis of an open government initiative:

Learn about everything and how it all fits together:

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