What is regarded as “good” public procurement practice does not occur naturally. There is nothing startling in that assertion – unchecked and uncontrolled the processes and outcomes of public procurement will tend to be manipulated for the benefit of those in a position to pull the necessary levers.
There are several checks and controls which applied to manage that tendency and one of the most important is that of transparency. The fact of visibility in terms of the actions of individuals and entities and the opportunity that provides for scrutiny and accountability can be a powerful brake on bad practice (and corruption!).
Attached is a link to the Sunlight Foundation Case Study on public procurement in the Slovak Republic. This highlights the part that transparency plays, but also emphasises that where it is not linked to effective and demonstrable accountability its effectiveness is diminished.
This set our thoughts running on the issue of transparency in our own public procurement processes. The question mark for the blog is around the transparency of large Framework Agreements. It is perfectly possible to establish a major multi-lot FA which turns over millions of pounds in public money using a single procurement to select the members and to satisfy the initial requirements. That FA can then run for in excess of 4 years without any practical obligation to disclose its dealings to any external body.
Is that lack of Transparency and Accountability healthy??