UK government pilots transparency clauses for public contracts

26 March 2015

Details of government contracts could be published as part of a trial of new transparency clauses.

The trial follows recommendations from the Institute for Government in its report Enhancing Transparency in Public Service Contracts.

The institute outlined how private and voluntary sector suppliers to government could be required to publish important information about their operations and performance.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said the government has committed to trialling similar transparency provisions based on these recommendations. This includes publishing the fees paid to government suppliers, their performance, and details of major subcontracting arrangements.

The Institute for Government’s report includes a standardised transparency clause, requiring suppliers to regularly release data in a set format. It was produced under the guidance of a taskforce led by the institute and made up of representatives from government, business and the voluntary sector.

Taskforce chair and senior fellow at the Institute for Government, Sir Ian Magee, said there was little public information on how public service contractors were performing.

“The transparency provisions agreed in this report will help make government contracts more open and accountable to the public,” he said. “So while this publication represents significant progress, we are clear that this is only just the beginning.”

Maude said the institute’s proposals aligned with the government’s principles on transparency.

“We will trial a similar version of these provisions later this spring as part of our commitments under the National Action Plan with a view to adopting them once we have consulted across Whitehall,” he said.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said the measure would complement freedom of information requirements.

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