The Coalition Document

There’s a surprising amount of good stuff in the Coalition Document – I just hope that it turns out better than most manifestos.

But there are several things that I really like, as well as some that are truly dreadful (such as the commitment to the E-borders scheme).  There’s a lot of good in section 16 on Government Transparency: of course, it doesn’t go nearly far enough.

I especially like this:

“we will take steps to open up Government procurement and reduce costs  and will publish all Government ICT contracts online” – but why the special treatment for ICT?

Because later, we have:

“we will require full, online disclosure of all central government contracts over £25,000” – so apparently non-ICT contracts under £25,000 won’t have to be published. But does it mean that contracts will have to be disclosed even when the contractor claims commercial confidentiality? I rather suspect that the lawyers of quite a few major government contractors are now looking hard at that and at any other possible get-out clauses.

And can we expect to see the full publication of all the contracts between the MOD and BAE?  Err, no: we can expect the “national security” trump to be played on that one.

Local government has tougher requirements – everything over £500 has to be listed, as well as all contracts and tenders. At what point? Does that mean that documents from unsuccessful bidders must also be published?

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