Government Transparency – exclusive!! (subject to correction from Cabinet Office…)

We wrote the other day about the OGC / ERG announcements on Transparency and whether there is some retreating from previous commitments - for instance, full publication of contracts.

I'm struggling to get 'official' lines out of Cabinet Office but I have had it unofficially confirmed that yes, Ministers have realised that commercial confidentiality CAN sometimes be a very good reason for not publishing every detail of the contract. Some sensible and persuasive civil servants have won the day, I suspect.  (You know who you are...)

This was the previous commitment:

All new central government ICT contracts to be published online from July 2010.

Here's what it now appears to be:

All new central government ICT contracts to be published online from July 2010 except for anything that is commercially confidential or has any other get out that would apply under Freedom of Information.

I have always personally had some doubts about the wisdom of publishing, and have written on that note,  so I'm not going to be hypocritical and cry 'shame' now if that is the case.  I think this is sensible - we risked losing value if suppliers knew that everything in their contracts would be in the public domain.  The public sector does get great deals in some areas that would disappear if they were made public.  Although less detail will reduce opportunities for interesting analysis as both a writer and consultant!

So when I posed the question the other day in our post: is the Government rowing back from pre (and immediately post) election commitments on transparency in the contractual area, the answer seems to be "yes",  subject to me receiving a stiff note from Francis Maude disputing this.

Equally, my analysis the other day of the "publishing tender documents" appears to be correct.  This new guidance we featured refers to publishing information post issue of tenders, not publishing the opportunities at the point of advertising when firms could actually bid for them.  I haven't established yet what is happening re the idea to advertise all opportunities over £10K  - "the Glover Portal"  (which is far more interesting to businesses than seeing the tender once it is too late to bid!)

Watch this space for news about public procurement that you won't get ANYWHERE else!*

* is this a good thing, I do ask myself?!

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  1. admin:

    Just in case anyone says, “we never meant that…”

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