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United Kingdom

Open contracting (UK0067)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Not Attached

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Crown Commercial Service

Support Institution(s): ARTICLE 19, CAFOD, Campaign for Freedom of Information,NC O, Open Contracting Partnership, The Open Data Institute

Policy Areas

E-Government, Fiscal Transparency, Legislation & Regulation, Open Contracting and Procurement, Open Data, Records Management

IRM Review

IRM Report: United Kingdom End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, United Kingdom Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Objective: To ensure citizens can see a clear public record of how government money is spent on public contracts and with what results.

Status quo: Civil Society tells us that we could open more relevant data, publish it more consistently and in formats that allow it to be more easily analysed. The challenges of working with current published data are a barrier to suppliers and businesses in deciding whether to bid for public sector business, and means third parties are less able to hold government to account for the way public money is spent.

Ambition: This policy will help to bring about a bold shift in the global default of public contracting and procurement from closed to open, supporting fair and effective contracting that will 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. This represents a transformative commitment to transparency and we are the first G7 country to implement this.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

5. Open contracting

Commitment Text:To implement the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) in the Crown Commercial Service's (CCS) operations by October 2016; we will also begin applying this approach to major infrastructure projects, starting with High Speed Two (HS2), and rolling out OCDS across government thereafter.

Objective:To ensure citizens can see a clear public record of how government money is spent on public contracts and with what results.

Status quo:Civil Society tells us that we could open more relevant data, publish it more consistently and in formats that allow it to be more easily analysed. The challenges of working with current published data are a barrier to suppliers and businesses in deciding whether to bid for public sector business, and means third parties are less able to hold government to account for the way public money is spent.

Ambition:This policy will help to bring about a bold shift in the global default of public contracting and procurement from closed to open, supporting fair and effective contracting that will 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. This represents a transformative commitment to transparency and we are the first G7 country to implement this.

Milestone:

1. Open Contracting Data Standard to be implemented on Crown Commercial Service procurement

Responsible institution: Crown Commercial Service

Supporting institution(s): All government departments, ARTICLE 19, CAFOD, Campaign for Freedom of Information, NCVO, Open Contracting Partnership, The Open Data Institute

Start date: May 2016

End date: June 2018

Commitment Aim:

This commitment on Open Contracting links to earlier work in the UK's previous action plan towards opening up contracting in the UK, and a series of central and local government initiatives to make contracts more transparent over the past decade.

Status

Midterm: Complete

The commitment was complete at the end of the first year - albeit slightly delayed because of problems with some historical data on the site.[Note 36: UK government ‘OGP UK National Action Plan 2016/18

Commitment progress update, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/UK_6-month-progress-update_20161213.pdf; Cabinet Office Open Government National Action Plan 2016-18: July 2017, Commitment Progress Updates (commitment update for July 2017) pre-publication passed to author ] Civil society was concerned that some infrastructure data was incomplete and felt that more expansive ideas were not added to the commitment, as originally envisioned.[Note 37: Reponses by Tim Davies to the public consultation] The updated Contracts Finder is now available in the OCDS format. Data from the Contracts Finder is also available on data.gov.uk and can be queried and explored by users.[Note 38: Gov.uk, ‘Contracts Finder', https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/Search ] The site is active and has been updated regularly.[Note 39: Gov.uk, ‘Contracts Finder', https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/Notice/Summary ] In August 2017, 250 separate contracts relating to the high-speed rail development were available to the public via the Contracts Finder. According the November 2017 update, Contract Finder had ‘76,466 visitors in October 2017… and approximately 100,000 email alerts to subscribers per week'.[Note 40: Cabinet Office (2017), Open Government National Action Plan 2016-18: November 2017 Commitment Progress Updates, https://www.opengovernment.org.uk/resource/og-nap-2016-18-november-2017-commitment-progress-updates/]

The Crown Commercial Service established a small steering group, which included representatives of the Open Data Institute, service users, CSO groups and the Open Contracting Partnership. This group met 3-4 times a year and provided important help and feedback.[Note 41: Interview with Tim Davies, Open Contracting Partnership, 4 September 2017; Interview with Andrew Bowen, CCS, August 2017.]

Although the commitment was complete by the end of the first year, Crown Commercial continued to work on updating ‘corporate identifiers' and to ‘identify contractors to publish supply chain notices'. The final update reported a continued increase in use:

• 82,030 visitors in February 2018, up from 76,466 visitors in October 2017.

• 1,211,016 page views in February 2018 up from 784,7171 page views in October 2017.

• 38,344 individual users (up from 32,794 in October 2017) from 25,149 organisations, 16,075 (63%) of which are SMEs.[Note 42: UK government (2018), 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan: April 2018 Commitment Progress Updates, https://www.opengovernment.org.uk/resource/2016-18-open-government-action-plan-april-2018-commitment-progress-updates/]

In addition, a ‘joint ‘Contracting 5' working group' of Colombia, France, Mexico, the Ukraine and Argentina was created to ‘share C5 experiences of implementing open contracting'.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Marginal

The developments in the commitment built on previous innovations in the UK's third action plan and further back. In terms of access to information, compared with the past, more data was made available to the public about various parts of contracting and on a timelier (in some cases daily) basis. Statistics on usage showed a continued increase in public interest and use of the data. There was also improved work on the format and completeness of data, as well as work merging it, which was evidence of continued use of technological innovation to enable public involvement.

The Open Contracting Partnership said, ‘Crown Commercial Service has taken on an ambitious and important task' with ‘major progress...achieved to publish daily open data based on the Open Contracting Data Standard'.[Note 43: Cabinet Office ‘Open Government Partnership National Action Plan 2016-18:

Mid-term Self Assessment Report' (UK government report September 2017) passed to author pre-publication.] It continued ‘while there is still work to be done to improve quality and completeness of information, the strong focus of the team on user needs, stakeholder engagement bodes well for 2017 and beyond'.[Note 44: Ibid.] However, CSOs were disappointed at the commitment as a whole and felt it was obeying ‘the letter' but not ‘the spirit' of the reforms. CSOs hoped that the contracting data would link to the newly published Beneficial Ownership information on the Person with Significant Control register, although no specific milestone was given in the text and the government disagreed that this was an aim and did not feel that this had been expressed (see Commitment 1).[Note 45: Interview with Tim Davies, Open Contracting Partnership, 4 September 2017; Companies House ‘The New People with Significant Control Register', https://companieshouse.blog.gov.uk/2016/04/13/the-new-people-with-significant-control-register/ ] There was also a sense that there was a lack of Ministerial interest in the topic over the past year.

Carried Forward?

As Tim Davies pointed out, open contracting had been a theme of OGP's second and third action plans in the UK. Despite this continued push, the high-profile collapse of government contractor Carillion in spring 2018 showed the ongoing limitations and secrecy around procurement in the UK. Tim Davies recommended a more local focus for future open contracting work.[Note 46: Tim Davies blog post, ‘Where next for Open Contracting in the UK?', 2 February 2018, http://www.timdavies.org.uk/2018/02/02/where-next-for-open-contracting-in-the-uk/ ]

The UK government's consultation on the national action plan for Open Government 2018 – 2020 suggested a similar approach, with a possible continuation of open contracting focused on the local level (though this is a suggestion and not government policy). This would be done by creating local level coalitions to push for change and by ‘encouraging local authorities to publish all of the data they can... to make it easier for residents to see how organisations are performing.[Note 47: UK Government (2018), Consultation draft of the National Action Plan for Open Government 2018 – 2020, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1XGUs6X8EHSOm00U-rX2_8cAoq7MnDsBjnetQeW0vnzA/edit#heading=h.y5i6179pcs8d],[Note 48: Ibid.]


United Kingdom's Commitments

  1. Grants Data

    UK0090, 2019, E-Government

  2. Public Participation

    UK0091, 2019, E-Government

  3. Open Policy Making

    UK0092, 2019, Public Participation

  4. Open Contracting Data

    UK0093, 2019, E-Government

  5. Natural Resource Transparency

    UK0094, 2019, E-Government

  6. Innovation in Democracy Programme

    UK0095, 2019, Public Participation

  7. Sustainable Open Government

    UK0096, 2019, Capacity Building

  8. Local Transparency

    UK0097, 2019, E-Government

  9. Beneficial ownership – UK

    UK0063, 2016, Beneficial Ownership

  10. Natural resource transparency

    UK0064, 2016, Extractive Industries

  11. Anti-Corruption Strategy

    UK0065, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  12. Anti-Corruption Innovation Hub

    UK0066, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  13. Open contracting

    UK0067, 2016, E-Government

  14. Grants data

    UK0068, 2016, E-Government

  15. Elections data

    UK0069, 2016, Capacity Building

  16. Revising Freedom of Information Act Code of Practice

    UK0070, 2016, Open Contracting and Procurement

  17. Identifying and publishing core data assets

    UK0071, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  18. Involving data users in shaping the future of open data

    UK0072, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Better use of data assets

    UK0073, 2016, Capacity Building

  20. "http://gov.uk/","GOV.UK"

    UK0074, 2016, Open Data

  21. Ongoing collaborative approach to open government reform

    UK0075, 2016, E-Government

  22. Open Government at all Levels

    UK0076, 2016, OGP

  23. Open Policy-making and Public Engagement

    UK0077, 2016, Capacity Building

  24. Public Sector Innovation

    UK0078, 2016, Capacity Building

  25. OCDS Implementation

    UK0079, 2016, E-Government

  26. Open-up Government

    UK0080, 2016, Capacity Building

  27. Open data plan

    UK0081, 2016, E-Government

  28. Open data service

    UK0082, 2016, Capacity Building

  29. StatsWales

    UK0083, 2016, E-Government

  30. Data Research Centre Wales

    UK0084, 2016, E-Government

  31. Government Social Research Publication Protocol

    UK0085, 2016, E-Government

  32. Gov.Wales

    UK0086, 2016, E-Government

  33. Code of Practice in Supply Chains

    UK0087, 2016, Labor

  34. Starred commitment National Indicators for Wales

    UK0088, 2016, Fiscal Transparency

  35. Starred commitment Well-being duty

    UK0089, 2016, E-Government

  36. National Information Infrastructure

    UK0042, 2013, Records Management

  37. NHS England Website and Network

    UK0043, 2013, Health

  38. Revised Local Authories Data Transparency Code

    UK0044, 2013, Capacity Building

  39. Transparent Social Investment Market

    UK0045, 2013, Open Data

  40. Manage and Capture Digital Records

    UK0046, 2013, Capacity Building

  41. Starred commitment Cross-Government Anti-Corruption Plan

    UK0047, 2013, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  42. Starred commitment Company Beneficial Ownership Information

    UK0048, 2013, Beneficial Ownership

  43. Access to Police Records

    UK0049, 2013, Justice

  44. Transparency in Construction

    UK0050, 2013, Infrastructure & Transport

  45. Legislative Openness

    UK0051, 2013, Beneficial Ownership

  46. Whistleblowing

    UK0052, 2013, Legislation & Regulation

  47. Open Contracting

    UK0053, 2013, Open Contracting and Procurement

  48. Open Contracting Scotland

    UK0054, 2013, E-Government

  49. Starred commitment International Aid Transparency

    UK0055, 2013, Aid

  50. Health Care Data

    UK0056, 2013, Health

  51. Open Policy Making

    UK0057, 2013, E-Government

  52. Sciencewise

    UK0058, 2013, E-Government

  53. Publication of Draft Legislation

    UK0059, 2013, Legislature

  54. OpenDataCommunities Programme

    UK0060, 2013, E-Government

  55. PSI Re-Use Directive

    UK0061, 2013, Legislation & Regulation

  56. Starred commitment Extractive Transparency

    UK0062, 2013, E-Government

  57. Ensuring a clear process to support reduction in collection of ‘unnecessary data’

    UK0024, 2011, E-Government

  58. Developing data.gov.uk and identifying other digital channels to support users

    UK0025, 2011,

  59. Evidence and databases behind policy statements

    UK0026, 2011, E-Government

  60. Data underlying surveys

    UK0027, 2011, E-Government

  61. Examining ways for improving the use of existing published data

    UK0028, 2011, E-Government

  62. Stimulate the market for innovative use of open data

    UK0029, 2011, Open Data

  63. Spend up to 5% of budget support on accountability

    UK0030, 2011, E-Government

  64. Include the OGP eligibility criteria to determine readiness for UK budget support

    UK0031, 2011, Aid

  65. Publish aid information from all ODA government departments

    UK0032, 2011, Aid

  66. Use a single domain for government services

    UK0033, 2011, E-Government

  67. Mandate ‘channel shift’

    UK0034, 2011, E-Government

  68. Go online for all consultations

    UK0035, 2011, E-Government

  69. Develop practical guidelines on departmental access to internet and social media

    UK0036, 2011, Civic Space

  70. Open data and application interfaces in ways that encourage businesses

    UK0037, 2011, E-Government

  71. Create cross-government standards on APIs

    UK0038, 2011,

  72. Establish standardised formats for user-satisfaction data

    UK0039, 2011, Records Management

  73. Provide government documents in open standard format

    UK0040, 2011, E-Government

  74. Implement crowd-sourcing and engagement processes

    UK0041, 2011,

  75. New power to secure release of valuable datasets

    UK0001, 2011,

  76. New, higher cost cap for FOI

    UK0002, 2011, Right to Information

  77. Meaningful disincentives

    UK0003, 2011,

  78. Maximum time limits

    UK0004, 2011, Right to Information

  79. Altered procurement rules

    UK0005, 2011,

  80. Mandating phased introduction of ‘Public by Default’

    UK0006, 2011, E-Government

  81. Formalising Public Data Principles

    UK0007, 2011, Records Management

  82. Having in place an Open Data compliance monitoring process

    UK0008, 2011, Records Management

  83. Making clear the minimum citizens can expect on publication and quality of data

    UK0009, 2011,

  84. Ensuring a line of continuous improvement for public service providers

    UK0010, 2011, Open Data

  85. Encourage continuous improvement

    UK0011, 2011, Records Management

  86. Setting out how citizens can challenge where there is failure in the process

    UK0012, 2011, Public Participation

  87. Establishing an obligation to consider and act on user feedback

    UK0013, 2011, Public Participation

  88. Making clear that licenses must cover free, commercial re-use

    UK0014, 2011,

  89. Merge information asset registers…into a single data inventory

    UK0015, 2011,

  90. Set consistent expectations of the appropriate quality of meta-data

    UK0016, 2011, Records Management

  91. For data co-ordinated across government, set definitions

    UK0017, 2011, E-Government

  92. Introducing corporate responsibility at Transparency Board level

    UK0018, 2011, Records Management

  93. Strengthening and broadening the Public Sector Transparency Board

    UK0019, 2011, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  94. Bringing the Sector Transparency Board model to other parts of public sector

    UK0020, 2011, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  95. Reviewing the existing governance and regulatory model

    UK0021, 2011, Records Management

  96. Establishing a framework for public service providers data inventories

    UK0022, 2011, Records Management

  97. Developing a clear methodology to support intelligent inventories

    UK0023, 2011, Records Management