Transparency of government procurement – stocktake

By Laurence Millar
Member with Delegated Authority

In July 2019, the government started to publish notices of contracts that have been awarded using the GETS (Government Electronic Tender System).  We applauded this initiative, taken as part of the Open Government National Action Plan, and looked forward to better government procurement practices as a result of the increased transparency. 

After 2½ years, what does the data tell us? 

Since 2020 we have been reporting on two major transparency issues:

  • The coverage of the GETS system – the amount of government expenditure that is reported 
  • The publication by government entities of the value of individual contracts awarded 

Our latest analysis shows that there has been no improvement in either of these issues since 2019, and during 2021, the situation deteriorated.  The full data is available online.

The value of contracts reported in GETS over the period has never been more than 2.5% of total government expenditure as shown in this graph.  The increase in the most recent period is a result of two contract award notices of more than $100 million.  

Although it is mandatory for government entities to report the value of contracts awarded, less than one in three notices provide this information.  Compliance has been falling since 2019; less than 30% of notices include information on contract value for every quarter of 2021. 

TINZ calls on the Government to phase out all exemptions to the procurement rules by 2023,  so that full information on all government expenditure will be published on GETS, and available for public scrutiny.

We support the aspirations of Laurence Pidcock (“The man trying to spend your $51 billion better”) expressed in this profile, and look forward to future progress in improving the coverage and quality of contract award notices published by Government agencies.

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