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ICO backs Kent on ICT contract confidentiality



County council wins ruling to protect details of contract with Daisy Updata on Kent Public Services Network deal

Kent County Council has won the right to keep details of a major ICT contract confidential in the face of a challenge under the Freedom of Information Act.

It came out on top of a recent decision by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) following a complaint that it was breaking the act by refusing to divulge all details of its six-year deal with Daisy Updata Communications, agreed in the summer of 2014 and reported to be worth £24 million, to manage the Kent Public Services Network (KPSN).

The complainant had requested the final tender submission from Daisy Updata, copies of all the communications between the county council and the company, and a copy of the evaluation guidelines. The council provided some information and, after a revised request, a tender submission but with significant redactions.

It claimed that providing full details of the submission would undermine the supplier's commercial position, as it contained some information that gave it the edge in the tender process and which would undermine its efforts to win future tenders.

This prompted the complainant to take the case to the ICO, which has now come out in favour of the county council.

Competitor advantage

The ruling states that the commissioner recognises that, if the information was revealed, competitors could amend their bids to beat those from Daisy Updata. In effect, its commercial sensitivity had not been reduced since the tender had taken place.

It also points to a wider relevance for large scale ICT contracts in the ruling, saying they contain technical and commercial information that could be of use to competitors. This includes details such as service provision, capacities, staffing and resource levels which would have little value to the public, and which can remain confidential.

All of this was judged to have outweighed the public interest in transparency around such a contract.

The KPSN provides a communications infrastructure for various public services around the county under the Kent Connects alliance, which is led by the county council. It serves 1,100 sites and has an estimated 250,000 users.

Image: Richtom80 at English Wikipedia GFDLCC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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