Something must be done | 11th November

“The transparency gap of unlawfully unpublished contracts has grown in size and the delays have lengthened,” said Jolyon Maugham, founder of the Good Law Project.

He was talking after the government failed to publish details of £4bn of Covid-related contracts with private firms.

In our recent submission to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) we too highlighted growing concerns about the process around how Covid-related contracts are being awarded: the £108 million given to a small family-run pest control company with net assets of £18 000; the £252 million PPE contract awarded to a private equity firm based in the tax haven of Mauritius who supplied 50 million unusable masks; the £840 000 coronavirus messaging contract issued by the Cabinet Office owned by people with strong links to a Cabinet Minister; the employment agency with net assets of £623 that was awarded an £18 million government contract to supply face masks; the £108m contract to a sweet wholesaler for the supply of PPE.

It just keeps coming.

Government buying fast does not excuse it from buying openly and publishing data in a timely manner.

Join us on Wednesday at our second meetup to discuss how we can support efforts to drive change.

Date: Wednesday 11th November

Time: 11-30 am to 12-30 am

Click here to sign up.

We hope to see you there,

The Open Government Network Steering Group

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Our PACAC response to the Inquiry into Data Accountability and Transparency of Covid-19 can be found here:

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Dear Jess,

Thanks for pulling that together. It’s really important to keep account of these things.

You can add a further £95,250 being quietly awarded to Cummings/Gove’s chums at Public First by Ofqual which they finally fessed up to last Friday:

Their response explains, “Ofqual has consulted Public First who have objected to the disclosure of Annex 2.” This annex, describing what was provided in return for the public funding, was withheld under s.43(2) of the FOIA, a qualified exemption requiring a balancing of the public interest. Ofqual concluded that Public First’s commercial interests are more important than openness and transparency. I’ll be referring this to the extremely overworked Information Commissioner’s Office for a second opinion.

Best wishes

James Coombs


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Hi All
I’d really urge everyone on this network to join tomorrow’s OpenGovernment Network meeting, if you can. We really need the network to come together at this time. Lots are at stake. We need to develop and send a really strong message to UK Gov on its approach to open government.

Click here to sign up. Nov 11 at 11.30am.

Hello, thanks to those who hosted and presented at the call yesterday. Following on from the procurement conversation, the National Audit Office is now also investigating this following a petition which collected over 10,000 signitures:

The National Audit Office has commenced an independent investigation to set out the facts relating to government procurement during the COVID-19 pandemic covering the period up to 31 July 2020. This will include, among other things, an assessment of procurement activity during the pandemic and the Government’s management of procurement risks. The report will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny by the Public Accounts Committee in the usual way.

I believe it has to be debated in parliament as well now, so one to watch out for.

I have a download of the chat conversation as well if any would like a copy too.

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