Changes to the way local authorities record and publish their procurement data may be introduced to increase transparency, under government proposals.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has launched a consultation to update the local government transparency code 2015 with a national reporting mechanism which would make procurement and contract data publishable to a central source, such as data.gov.uk.
The fixed format for data and the central source would make analysis and comparisons of data easier, the consultation document suggests. This would help detect fraud but also allow local authorities to compare procurement and improve value for money.
Currently, the code requires local authorities to publish details of all tenders for contracts for goods and services with a value over £5,000, and details of every contract, commissioned activity, purchase order or framework agreement with a value that exceeds £5,000, every quarter.
The department is proposing that local authorities should document costs and benefits relating to decisions to provide services ‘in house’. This would be alongside the code’s current requirement to provide details of contracts with external providers.
The proposals also include recommendations that local authorities publish information about their dealings with small and medium-sized enterprises.
The government stated that it acknowledged that many local authorities already make this information public, but said that the new proposals would make sure it was readily available in one place.
“We are clear that local authorities will continue to publish procurement and contract data, just as they do at present, but publish it in a fixed format to a central source,” the consultation document read. “The data would remain, as it is at present, in an open and machine-readable format.”
The consultation closes on 8 July 2016.