At Open Opps we scour the web to publish every tender we can possibly find for our users. We pay a lot of attention to the UK, and we’re confident that we have every public sector tender that is published online.
Having compared all of the opportunities that we’ve gathered over the past two years, with all of the opportunities on Contracts Finder, we found nearly 100,000 tenders that never made it to Contracts Finder, that’s 73% of all the tenders published in England.1 This is despite the recommendations in Lord Young’s 2015 report that all opportunities above certain thresholds should be published to Contracts Finder.2
The research indicates that Central Government departments are quite good at publishing to Contracts Finder; it’s the wider public sector, the councils and NHS Trusts, that are failing to publish the data, even though the law requires them to.
It’s easy to see how requirements like this get forgotten, and it is hard to argue that NHS Trusts can afford to focus on where tenders get published whilst there are patients in corridors. But it’s not the job of the Contracts Finder team to enforce the law.
In defence of the Government, most countries don’t even try to bring all of their data together in a single portal. It is only because Contracts Finder is supposed to be a single site for all public sector tenders, that there is any missing data. All the same, if you’re going to make a promise, it’s better to keep it.
Access to tender data can help to drive competition, reduce procurement costs and improve the chances of smaller businesses winning tenders, all of which are existing Government policies. They're also policies that have also been either honoured or extended by the other major parties in the election. So it’s safe to say that a better Contracts Finder would have support in the future.
If the next Government can achieve the original ambitions for Contracts Finder, they will be fulfilling manifesto pledges, saving money, getting a better deal for SMEs and placing themselves far in advance of any other administration in the world.
OpenOpps.com stands ready to help.