Open Government Partnership
Open Contracting and Procurement
The Working Group for Commitment 1 of the Open Government Programme (OGP) Action Plan, made up of Scottish Government and Civil Society representatives, met again in January. Colleagues from Scottish Procurement who formed part of the Open Contracting Project team joined us to discuss progress against the Scottish Government Procurement milestone.
The Open Contracting project team was established in the Scottish Government in 2016 and made a good start by implementing quick wins. The government’s Open Contracting Strategy was published in 2017, followed by the adoption of the Open Contracting Data Standard in 2018.
The Procurement team told us about the progress they have since been making against the three procurement milestones in the financial transparency and performance commitment section of the Action Plan:
- Consult with Civil Society on how best to make published procurement information useful and accessible to a wide audience;
- Publish Scottish Government contract documentation, starting with large collaborative frameworks; and
- Publish Scottish Government procurement-related spend information
The team has completed the first two commitments and are currently working with other Scottish Government colleagues to achieve the final outstanding action.
Through their work on delivering Open Government commitments, the biggest challenge they have faced is addressing cultural change both inside and outside of government, which takes time. And, although their work involves changing internal behaviours, it also needs to be appropriately resourced and supported. The Procurement team found that consultation with Civil Society is key and also that there is genuine public interest in their published information.
The team gave us a demonstration of the Public Contracts Scotland (PCS) portal, where all public sector contracts are publicised. There are currently around 600 buying organisations and over 60,000 supplier registrations on PCS. The site has been developed to be in line with the Open Contracting Data Standard which provides information in a structured, open and reusable format. This allows users to bulk download contract information and access an open API of data. This is available in the transparency area of the site without the need to register.
Scottish Procurement are also on Twitter and you can follow them for future updates.
In other business the group noted that there was only six months left of the second OGP Action plan. The group’s priorities are to finish off the remaining actions and to start to thinking about the development of a new plan.
The next financial transparency and performance meeting working group will be in March, where there will be the third of the deep dives from the Scottish Exchequer and Doreen Grove, head of Open Government at the Scottish Government, will give us an update on the shape of the new plan.