The consultation paper noted that the Scottish Government is supportive of open contracting, that promotes openness and transparency in procurement and refers to practices which allow for increased disclosure and citizen participation in public contracting.
Q63 What is your view of the Scottish Government's position to broadly endorse the principles of open contracting and commitment to work with civil society and wider stakeholder groups to improve transparency in its procurement practices as part of its continuing programme of procurement reform?
Eighty-seven respondents provided commentary to this question, most of whom endorsed the principles of openness and transparency and / or the Scottish Government commitment to the principles of open contracting and commitment to work with civil society and wider stakeholder groups to improve transparency in procurement practices.
A small number of organisations - mostly statutory organisations - commented that the Scottish model of procurement already embraces the spirit of open contracting and that no further legislation is needed.
There were a number of concerns stated, each by relatively small numbers of respondents (10 or fewer). A number of respondents noted the need to consider commercial sensitivities and confidentiality when providing information in relation to the procurement process. Some others commented on the need to strike a balance between what constitutes value to the public and the amount of resources needed to produce information which may in actuality offer little benefit to the public, with some suggestion for proportionality in information provision in order to achieve value for money.
There were also concerns from some respondents that this will place an additional burden on public bodies in terms of resources and reporting, and a small number of respondents noted that there could be an unrealistic expectation of what can be delivered within available budgets. Indeed, once again, there were some references to SMEs being at a disadvantage in this process.
Allied to this, there were some calls for public bodies to have a degree of discretion in terms of what information they have to provide, with some commenting that the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act (FoISA) already allows for the general public to obtain information they request. There were one or two calls for a balance between openness and transparency and rigorous and robust regulation.
Summary : Open contracting
There was broad support for the principles of openness and transparency and for the Scottish Government commitment to open contracting and working with civil society and wider stakeholder groups to improve transparency in procurement practices. There was some concern over the issue of commercial sensitivities and confidentiality when providing information and some requests for proportionality.
Email: Graeme Beale