Government contracts to be open to public for the first time

Posted On: 12th May 2016

For the first time ever, public contracts will be visible from start to finish under new rules announced at London’s Anti-Corruption Summit.Government Opportunities

As part of its leadership of a global drive to tackle corruption, the government is making a series of concrete commitments to maintain the UK’s position as the most transparent governments ever.

The UK Open Government National Action Plan 2016-18 (NAP) sets out 13 commitments on transparency, anti corruption and open government. It also sets out how government is making information clearer, easier to interpret and easier to use.

The commitments include:

  • The UK becoming the first G7 country to commit to the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) for contracts administered by a central purchasing authority, the Crown Commercial Service. This means that the whole process of awarding public sector contracts – from the bidding right through to the building – will be visible to the public for the first time by October 2016. This will be piloted by High Speed Rail 2.
  • Introducing a more rigorous system, including additional conviction checks, to ensure that corrupt companies cannot be awarded government contracts.
  • Creating a new Anti-Corruption Innovation Hub with Mexico, France, Ghana, Georgia, Switzerland, Afghanistan, UAE, Indonesia, Norway. The Hub will connect social innovators, technology experts, and data scientists with law enforcement and civil society to share best practice and innovative techniques in tackling corruption.
  • Open Contracting enables disclosure of all data and documents at all stages of the contracting process. It supports organisations to increase contracting transparency, and allows deeper analysis of contracting data by a wide range of users.
  • HS2 will conduct the first trials of this Standard in the UK, and the government will follow suit with its own Crown Commercial Service by October 2016. Internationally, this policy has received wide-ranging support: at least nine countries, including Mexico, will demonstrate movement towards full transparency by applying the OCDS, a uniform approach for data sharing, to specific major projects.

This commitment is part of a drive to shift the global default from closed to open public contracting, reduce fraud and corruption, save governments money and time, create more business opportunities for small and medium sized businesses, and empower civil society oversight and citizen engagement and innovation in service delivery.

The UK is also introducing an additional conviction check to ensure that individuals and companies convicted of corruption-related offences, such as bribery or fraud, are effectively prevented from winning public contracts. As part of this commitment the UK will work with key international partners to improve information sharing and flag bidders with relevant convictions.

The UK will also lead on a new Anti-Corruption Innovation Hub, a network of social innovators, technology experts, law enforcement, businesses, and civil society organisations which will share experiences,and disseminate good practice across the world. The UK is already in active discussions with interested organisations such as Thompson Reuters.

Vodafone and Transparency International. Innovation Hub will, in its first year, be incubated by the UK Government Digital Service with support from Omidyar Network and will enable countries to better tackle corruption together. As part of the first year, the UK is supporting two pilot projects on behavioural science in Colombia and Argentina.

Matt Hancock, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, said:

“There is nothing inevitable about countries being held back by the scourge of corruption, but it is a global problem that requires co-ordinated action.

The UK is determined to lead the fight against corruption, which is why we are today committing ourselves to increasing transparency, introducing additional criminal check, and creating a new anti-corruption hub.

We must act together to make sure there is no hiding place for those that perpetrate the corruption that spreads injustice and divides our world.”

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