Principles on government contract transparency to be developed

Out-Law News | 06 May 2014 | 12:51 pm | 1 min. read

The UK government and business leaders are to co-develop new principles to increase the openness of public sector outsourcing arrangements.

The commitment to develop the principles was agreed on at a meeting of UK government representatives and business groups, including the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), held last week.

"The government and the CBI have agreed to develop a joint set of principles to make outsourced public services more transparent and increase openness between government and its suppliers," a statement issued by the Cabinet Office said. It said the move would "build on the government’s world-leading transparency record" and aim to "foster greater openness and trust between government and its suppliers".

Last year senior government figures, including chief procurement officer Bill Crothers, called for all the information relating to government deals with suppliers to be made fully transparent. The calls were made before a UK parliamentary committee. At the time Crothers said that making commercial information openly available could help promote competition for government contracts and ultimately drive down costs to the taxpayer.

"We are committed to continuing to improve how we engage with bidders, run procurements, and manage contracts, as well as build strong relationships with our suppliers," Crothers said in the Cabinet Office's latest statement. "The support of the CBI and industry in working with us to deliver these improvements is very positive and warmly welcomed.

The CBI made recommendations of its own on how transparency around government contracts (28-page / 2.14MB PDF) could be enhanced in a report earlier this year.

Director general of the CBI, John Cridland, said: "Public services businesses operate in an industry that demands close public scrutiny, which is why we have proposed a range of transparency measures including the online publication of contracts, open book accounting and the extension of the National Audit Office’s remit. We will be working closely with the government to deliver on our transparency proposals and ultimately towards delivering better public services which will save the taxpayer money."