Archives for contractors

Comments on draft transparency clause for government contracts

The Campaign has commented on proposals for a draft transparency clause produced by the Crown Commercial Service, a Cabinet Office agency. The clause is intended to be included in an updated version of the Model Services Contract which is designed for use by government departments when procuring services. The Government is committed in the Open Government Partnership National Action Plan 2013-2015 (see commitment 12) to introduce such standard transparency clauses into government contracts and to draw them up in consultation with civil society organisations and business.
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FOI manifesto commitments

What does the future hold for Freedom of Information? We’ve been going through the major parties’ election manifestos to see what FOI commitments have been made.
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Labour’s FOI commitment – and NCVO doubts

Labour’s election manifesto promises to extend FOI “so that public services run by large private companies are included” – a welcome step. However, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) have expressed doubts about this proposal and are instead calling for transparency to be achieved by proactive publication of information about contracts presumably via the Institute for Government’s proposals. These envisage a contractor and authority agreeing between themselves in advance what information about the performance of the contract will be published; allowing the contractor to verify any information before it is published; and allowing the authority to withhold the promised information if it considers publication would be contrary to the public interest.

We have no particular problem with the IfG proposals themselves. We do have a problem if they are used to prevent the FOI Act being extended to provide an adequate right of access to contractor held information.
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Network Rail and political differences on the scope of FOI

A short debate by MPs on Tuesday (10 February 2015) was interesting for the differences it revealed between the political parties over the scope of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI).
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FOI Act celebrates its 10th anniversary on January 1

The Freedom of Information Act (FOI Act), which has its 10th anniversary on January 1 2015, has played a major part in informing the public about the state of public services, says the Campaign for Freedom of Information.  The Act, which was passed in November 2000 came into force on January 1 2005. However, the Campaign says it is being undermined by the increasing use of private contractors to provide public services.
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MPs debate amendment to bring contractors’ information under FOI Act

On 17th November, MPs debated John Hemming’s Transparency and Accountability Bill, which contains measures drafted by the Campaign to strengthen the public’s right to know about public services which have been contracted out.
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MPs’ bill would strengthen public right to know about contractors

A Bill to close a loophole in the Freedom of Information Act that allows contractors providing public services to escape scrutiny is due have its second reading debate on Friday 17 October.
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Transparency and Accountability Bill

The Campaign’s proposals for a bill to increase FOI access to information held by contractors providing public services have been taken up by John Hemming MP (Lib Dem, Birmingham Yardley) who drew a place in the ballot for Private Members’ Bills. Mr Hemming’s Transparency and Accountability Bill combines measures on a number of different issues. As well as amending the FOI Act in relation to contractors, it includes provisions:

  • regarding arrangements for children involved in court proceedings;
  • on the transparency, administration and accountability of courts and case conferences;
  • requiring the Secretary of State to report to Parliament annually on the number of prisoners who have exceeded their tariff and have not been released because they do not admit guilt;
  • to extend the Criminal Cases Review Commission’s powers to obtain information; to make provision about consumer complaints in markets for public services.

The FOI provisions are in clauses 15 to 17 of the Bill.  A copy of the Bill with explanatory notes is available on Mr Hemming’s website, which also allows you to indicate your support for the Bill.  The Bill’s second reading in the House of Commons is due to take place on 17th October 2014. However, as Mr Hemming came relatively low in the ballot, Parliamentary time for the bill’s consideration may be limited.

For additional information about FOI and contractors see this press release and this note.

MPs urged to bring contractors’ information under FOI Act

MPs who come up in this week’s ballot for private members’ bills are being urged to introduce a bill to improve the public’s right to know about public service contracts.
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Two consultations on FOI this year

Justice minister, Simon Hughes, today confirmed there would be two significant consultations on the Freedom of Information Act this year:
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