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Australia

Expand Open Contracting (AU0023)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Australia Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Department of Finance

Support Institution(s): Australian Government entities bound by the Commonwealth Procurement Framework. Transparency International Australia. Open Contracting Partnership.

Policy Areas

Access to Information, Anti-Corruption, E-Government, Open Contracting and Public Procurement, Open Data, Public Procurement

IRM Review

IRM Report: Australia Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

Expand open contracting and due diligence in procurement
Commitment Start and End Date
September 2078-August 2020
Lead implementing agency/actor
Department of Finance
Commitment description
What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
Under Commitment 4.3 of Australia's first Open Government National Action Plan, the Government assessed its compliance with the Open Contracting Data Standard. Following this assessment and a public consultation process, the Government agreed to progress options to increase its compliance with the Open Contracting Data Standard by publishing AusTender contracting data in an OCDS-compliant schema.
The Open Contracting Data Standard sets out key documents and data that should be published at each stage of government procurement. The Standard enables disclosure of data and documents at all stages of the contracting process by defining a common data model. It was created to support organisations to increase contracting transparency, and allow deeper analysis of contracting data by a wide range of users.
What is the commitment?
Australia will progress the publication of existing federal Government procurement data using the Open Contracting Data Standard schema to publish an additional AusTender dataset on data.gov.au.
We wi 11 then assess the use and vaIue of that data for relevant purposes and to relevant user groups including government. business and civil society.
Additionally, Australia will review existing procurement due diligence processes. report on the outcomes of the review. and consider opportunities to further support the Open Government Partnership values of transparency and accountability
How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?
This commitment will build on the Open Contracting commitment in the original Open Government National Action Plan
Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
This commitment will advance the OGP values of transparency.
accountability and access to government information.
Additional information
Milestone Activity with a verifiable deliverable
Publish additional OCDS-compliant dataset on data.gov.au
Underway – 12/31/2018
Engage with stakeholders in government. business and civil society to promote the publication of additional dataset
10/1/2018 – 6/30/2019
Review existing due diligence processes of relevant Commonwealth entities and publish outcome of review
1/1/2019 – 12/31/2019
Review use and value of OCDS-compliant dataset
7/1/2019 – 12/31/2019
Implement additional measures (if required)
1/1/2020 – 6/30/2020
Contact information
Contacts
Department of Finance
Email and Phone
grocurementagencyadvice©finanee.gov.au
Other Actors Involved
Australian Government entities bound by the Commonwealth Procurement Framework.
Transparency International Australia. Open Contracting Partnership.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

8. Expand open contracting and due diligence in procurement

Commitment Text:

Australia will progress the publication of existing federal government procurement data using the Open Contracting Data Standard schema to publish an additional AusTender dataset on data.gov.au.

We will then assess the use and value of that data for relevant purposes and to relevant user groups including government, business and civil society.

Additionally, Australia will review existing procurement due diligence processes, report on the outcomes of the review, and consider opportunities to further support the Open Government Partnership values of transparency and accountability.

Milestones

  • Publish additional OCDS-compliant dataset on data.gov.au
  • Engage with stakeholders in government, business and civil society to promote the publication of additional dataset
  • Review existing due diligence processes of relevant Commonwealth entities and publish outcome of review
  • Review use and value of OCDS-compliant dataset
  • Implement additional measures (if required)

Start Date: September 2018                                                                 End Date: August 2020

Editorial Note: This is a partial version of the commitment text. For the full commitment text, see the Australia National Action Plan available at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Australia_Action-Plan_2018-2020.pdf.

Context and Objectives

The Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) is used in over 19 countries and subnational governments for publishing information on government procurement. It outlines three elements: what information about the government procurement process should be published; when this information should be released during the procurement cycle; and the format and structure of the published information. Adopting the standard may enable greater transparency in public contracting so that stakeholders might assess the efficiency, effectiveness, fairness, and integrity of public contracting systems. [60]

The Department of Finance engaged a private contractor to review the federal government’s compliance with the OCDS as part of Commitment 13 in NAP1. [61] That review found that the AusTender system, the current platform used to publish federal government procurement information, met only approximately one-third of the data-field requirements. The AusTender system also did not meet either the timing or format requirements. [62] In response, the Department of Finance indicated that it would increase compliance with the OCDS by making the existing procurement information available in an OCDS-compliant format. [63] They would also seek to improve compliance in future amendments to the procurement framework and AusTender system.

This commitment is generally verifiable. The publishing of federal government procurement information on data.gov.au in an OCDS-compliant format will be publicly accessible and is therefore verifiable. However, the precise nature and scope of stakeholder engagement are not set out in the commitment. Similarly, the reviews of existing due diligence processes, and of the use and value of the dataset, may not be made public or otherwise verifiable. The nature of any additional measures is uncertain given the commitment does not clarify how additional measures will be identified and when implementation will be required. 

This commitment is relevant to the OGP value of access to information as it seeks to improve government-held information by making procurement information on the data.gov.au website OCDS-compliant. It will then evaluate the use and value of that data to relevant user groups and review existing procurement due diligence processes. The commitment does not, however, extend to publishing additional types of federal procurement data.

The commitment aims to engage stakeholders outside the government to promote the availability of existing procurement data in the OCDS-compliant format. However, the nature of such engagement is unclear, and there is no indication that such engagement will allow citizens to participate in, or influence, a decision-making process. The terms of the commitment also do not include any engagement outside of government in the review of the use and value of that dataset, or the review of existing due diligence procedures. This commitment thus falls short of being relevant to the value of civic participation.

Any additional public-facing measures that stem from this commitment may result in additional due diligence requirements and hence be relevant to government accountability. It is unclear whether the review of the use and value of the OCDS-compliant dataset with stakeholders will lead to the collection and publication of information not currently included in that dataset.

If fully implemented as written, commitment stands to have minor potential impact on ensuring that government procurement data is compliant with OCDS standards, thus improving trust in government and combatting corruption. The publication of existing procurement information in an OCDS-compliant format may lead to greater public access and analysis. However, the commitment does not provide for additional information to be released and may not involve public participation in future development of the public procurement framework.

Next Steps

Transparent government procurement is important in maintaining trust in government, increasing accountability, and combatting corruption. Compliance with the OCDS enables monitoring of government procurement processes by a variety of stakeholders outside the government. It also enables users to join together information and both analyse and share that data. [64]

In the progress report of the first national action plan, the IRM recommended a comprehensive review of the costs and benefits associated with further implementation of the OCDS. Reiterating this recommendation in this report, this review should include a collaborative consultation with civil society and an evaluation of the uses of currently available information. While the commitment will review the uses and value of providing existing information in an OCDS format, it does not expressly expand the information collected and published so as to more fully comply with all elements of the OCDS. The IRM therefore recommends that future action plans leverage a collaborative approach to extending compliance with the OCDS, including greater disclosure, involving both government and nongovernment stakeholders.

[60] Open Contracting Partnership, “Getting Started” in Open Contracting Data Standard (accessed Jun. 2020), http://standard.open-contracting.org/latest/en/getting_started/.
[61] Dept. of Finance, “Review of AusTender Data against the Open Contracting Data Standard” (Jul. 2017), https://www.finance.gov.au/blog/2017/07/20-Open-Government-Contracting-Data/.
[62] Daniel Stewart, Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): Australia End-of-Term Report 2016–2018 (Open Government Partnership, 2018), 55–56, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Australia_End-of-Term_Report_2016-2018.pdf.
[63] Dept. of Finance, “Completion of Commitment 4.3 of the Open Government National Action Plan – Open Contracting” (May 2018), https://www.finance.gov.au/about-us/news/2018/completion-commitment-43-open-government-national-action-plan-open-contracting.
[64] Open Contracting Partnership, The Open Contracting Data Standard (accessed Jun. 2020), https://www.open-contracting.org/data-standard/.

Commitments

  1. Strengthen Anti-Corruption Framework

    AU0016, 2018, Anti-Corruption

  2. Political Donation Transparency

    AU0017, 2018, Legislation & Regulation

  3. Data Sharing

    AU0018, 2018, Access to Information

  4. Improve Public Service Practice

    AU0019, 2018, Capacity Building

  5. Access to Information

    AU0020, 2018, Access to Information

  6. Enhance Public Engagement Skills in the Public Service

    AU0021, 2018, Capacity Building

  7. Independent Review of the Australian Public Service

    AU0022, 2018, Capacity Building

  8. Expand Open Contracting

    AU0023, 2018, Access to Information

  9. Whiste-Blower Protections

    AU0001, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  10. Beneficial Ownership Transparency

    AU0002, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  11. Extractive Industries Transparency

    AU0003, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  12. Combating Corporate Crime

    AU0004, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  13. Data Innovation

    AU0005, 2016, Access to Information

  14. Public Trust in Data Sharing

    AU0006, 2016, Access to Information

  15. Digitization of Government Services

    AU0007, 2016, Capacity Building

  16. Information Management and Access Laws

    AU0008, 2016, Access to Information

  17. Freedom of Information

    AU0009, 2016, Access to Information

  18. Access to Government Data

    AU0010, 2016, Access to Information

  19. Electoral System and Political Parties

    AU0011, 2016, Political Integrity

  20. National Integrity Framework

    AU0012, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  21. Open Contracting

    AU0013, 2016, Access to Information

  22. OGP NAP

    AU0014, 2016, Public Participation

  23. Public Participation

    AU0015, 2016, Capacity Building

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