Transparency in ICT Contracts

July 5, 2010

The Office of Government Commerce has set out new requirements for greater transparency in central government procurement, following through on the coalition government commitments which were presaged in the Conservative Party technology manifesto.

From the 1 July, departments should seek to publish ICT contracts in as full a set of documentation as possible on their own web sites. This requirement applies to all ICT contracts with terms:

(a) which do not contain confidentiality clauses, or

(b) where such clauses have not been finalised.

Departments should avoid including confidentiality clauses in current and all future ICT contracts.

Departments are advised to take legal advice on any risks that may arise from publication. Limited redactions of specific contractual text on the grounds of national security, protection of personal privacy, IT security and the prevention of fraud are permitted.

The commitment to the publication of tender documents, another element of greater transparency, requires that all new central government tender documents for contracts over £10,000 be published on a single web site from September 2010, with this information being made available to the public free of charge. It is envisaged that, in order to meet this commitment, departments will need to publish contract advertisements plus additional tender documentation. The commitment will not apply to contracts with an expected value of less than £10,000, but will apply to all competitive tenders above £10,000, whether open tenders or competitive tenders against a framework or other pre-selected list of suppliers.

This commitment is not retrospective. It will only apply to procurement exercises where the tender document is issued on or after the start date in September 2010.

The OGC are considering options for the delivery of the single web site, building on work already done on the new procurement portal.

The final requirement is that all new central Government contracts must be published in full from January 2011.

The full text of the Policy Note is available here