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Government commits to Open Contracting Data Standard



New Open Government National Action Plan includes Crown Commercial Service in lead role and further developments of GOV.UK

The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) is to implement a standard for open data in contracting later this year as a first step towards its wider use in government.

The move towards implementation of the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) is one of the core features of the third Open Government National Action Plan, covering 2016-18.

It highlights the potential of the OCDS, which defines a common data model for the disclosure of data and documents at all parts of the contracting process. Developed by the international Open Contracting Partnership, it emphasises the iterative publication of data, making it reusable and creating summary records for the whole contracting process.

The action plan conveys it as a move towards more transparent contracting, with the potential to reduce fraud and corruption and give SMEs more opportunities in government procurement.

CCS is planning to begin using the OCDS by October of this year for major infrastructure projects, starting with the High Speed Two railway programme.

Website advance

The further development of the GOV.UK website also features in the action plan, aimed at increasing openness and encouraging civic participation across government. The first two steps, which have recently got under way, are a discovery project to identity opportunities for improved digital consultation tools, and improvements in tagging, navigation, search and notification systems on the site.

These will be followed by work on providing APIs for government content and a full version history of every published page.

Other features of the plan include:

  • Development of an anti-corruption innovation hub.
  • Collecting and publishing more granular data on grant making.
  • Developing a common data standard for reporting election results.
  • Supporting data-driven techniques in policy and service delivery across government departments, and encouraging the better use of open data.

It also refers to the Government’s programme to build a new national information infrastructure.

Tim Hughes, coordinator of the UK Open Government Network, commented in a blogpost that the action plan has emerged from a consultation programme run by the Open Government Network, and that it should continue as an open and collaborative process.

He said the work will be driven by the “1% rule for internet culture”, by which 1% of the community will create material, 9% will edit it and 90% will only view it.

Nuts and bolts

“We need to open up the nuts and bolts of the process to the 1% with the interest, knowledge and skills to actively collaborate in developing a specific commitment,” he said.

“We need the participation of the “9%” in commenting, challenging and improving ideas, drafts and policies. And finally, we need the “90%” to know what’s going on, not least so they can step into the fray when they have something to say or offer.  

“With limited time and resources it can be easy to skew to one, but all are needed to get maximum value.  This all means having a clear process, defined and accessible opportunities to get involved, and feedback loops to those involved and less so."

Image by, CC 2.0 through flickr


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