David Cameron has announced that the Conservative Party would publish details of all government contracts for goods and services worth over £25,000, if it is elected.
The Tory party leader made the announcement at the Technology Entertainment Design conference in California, via video link, where he told an audience that he would create a new “right to government data.”
The announcement came as the Tories launched their Transparency Plan in their Draft Manifesto 2010. This says a Conservative government would “get a grip” on government ICT projects, so they deliver better value for money.
The manifesto states: “The government and the private sector providers delivering these projects are able to hide behind confidentiality clauses, meaning that badly designed contracts which are ripping off the taxpayer cannot be exposed.”
Under the plans, a future Conservative government would publish all government contracts in full, including all performance indicators, break clauses and penalty measures.
At the end of last year, shadow health spokesman Stephen O’Brien told E-Health Insider that at the top of his wish list for the New Year would be “a transparent renegotiation of the programme’s LSP contracts [involved in the National Programme for IT in the NHS].”
He added: “The public has a right to assess whether these contracts offer value for money and I think it is high time the government returned to the negotiating table to ensure that NHS trusts can access competitive, innovative and flexible IT solutions.”
The Tories also say they would “call a moratorium on the creation of new ICT projects and establish a presumption that ICT contracts should not exceed £100million in value.”
The manifesto adds that no ICT project will be commissioned without first seeing if it can be done for free or at very low cost and says that the Tories will set open standards to encourage interoperability between ICT systems.
The paper goes on to blame the government of having “a terrible record at managing procurement, with billions of pounds wasted on mismanaged projects.”
Speaking ahead of David Cameron’s speech, shadow Chancellor George Osborne said: “Our commitment to publish government contracts in full is the most radical transparency announcement ever made by a British political party-and will enable the public to hold ministers and civil servants to account.”
The Conservatives have repeatedly called for the details around the local service provider contracts for the National Programme for IT to be made public.