New Data on Government Contracts – Where Is Your Money Being Spent?

We’re pleased to feature a guest post from Ian Makgill, Managing Director of  Spend Network which analyses government spend data, producing real evidence-based work. 

Recently Spend Network and the Institute for Government published a joint report into the largest suppliers in Government. The data was collated from over 6,711 of the publicly available monthly spend statements from central and local government before being linked to Companies House and other records.

As you would expect, our analysis features some familiar names, but also has some notable exceptions, G4S for example. The full report can be found here.

There were a couple of findings from the data that we think might be worth highlighting to Spend Matters readers. Our research showed a significant fall in the amount spent with the largest suppliers, which fell by 8% between 2012 and 2013, with only utilities and outsourcing bucking the trend and with construction facing an inevitable, post Olympics fall in revenues. However, if we ignore the construction suppliers in our list, the fall in spend with the remaining 15 suppliers was less than £300m or less than 4% out of a total bill of over £8bn.

The other area that might be of interest to readers is the data on spending with SMEs. As smaller organisations with fewer, large-scale projects it is inevitable that local government will have a larger spend with SMEs, but the difference is significantly larger than we expected. During 2012 and 2013 local government spent six times more than central government with SMEs, suggesting that central government might have something to learn from its local government counterparts when it comes to engaging smaller suppliers.

As well as shedding new light on government spending, we believe our work also highlights the importance of transparency data. Opening up the procurement data not only makes public the insights that had been held privately by Government, but allows for new insights that weren’t possible before data was made open. The work of the Open Data Institute and the Open Data User Group is going to see more and more data being opened up, creating even more insight for the public and the suppliers to Government.

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