United Kingdom

Background

The UK is committed to Open Government and is a world leader in providing access to information, civic participation and public accountability. As a founding member of the Open Government Partnership, we know that opening up government is a powerful way of building trust and bringing people together, both nationally and locally. It helps build strong communities, drives economic growth, and improves government efficiency and service delivery.

Committing to the innovative pursuit of open government reform in the UK is also a foundation to promote and support the strengthening of democracy and transparency internationally.

In its second OGP National Action Plan, the UK committed to adopting Open Contracting principles and to implementation of OCDS in the third National Action Plan. Open Contracting is also a critical part of delivering the government’s commitments for transparency in procurement.

The UK is an active contributor to the C5, leading work in 2017 on establishing a common baseline for the C5 OCDS implementation projects.

 

Philosophy

The UK Crown Commercial Service (CCS) is working together with other government agencies, business and civil society to test and learn how open contracting information can ensure a fair, level playing field for businesses to win government contracts and boost supplier diversity,
especially small businesses.

Contracts Finder, the single publishing portal for all public sector procurement opportunities, is the focus of the UK Open Contracting initiative. Contracts Finder was established to advertise public sector procurements to SMEs and provide greater accountability to the taxpayer by providing transparency of contract opportunities and awards across the public sector.

Public sector buyers have to publish information about contracts over certain thresholds (£10,000 in Central Government and £25,000 in the wider public sector) on Contracts Finder. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own dedicated public sector procurement websites.

Achievements

The UK was the first G7 country to commit to the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) for contracts administered by a central purchasing authority. Crown Commercial Service has successfully fulfilled this commitment by implementing the OCDS on the Contracts Finder service. In July 2016 we established a UK Open Contracting Steering group to provide external stakeholders with a forum to oversee our open contracting commitment. In September 2016 we set up a showcase and learning project with the Open Contracting Partnership. Since November 2016, data from Contracts Finder has been published in the OCDS format as both a daily snapshot on data.gov.uk and a public interface allowing a search of the database and download in OCDS format. The UK Open Standards Board adopted the OCDS in November 2016. Our implementation of the OCDS to date provides a basis for further commitments, including: - Improving the use and validation of organisation identifiers. - Publication of subcontracting data into the Contracts Finder platform - Agreement of a joint methodology with civil society for measuring tender and award publication. - Undertake a scoping study and pilot on linking spend and contracts register.