Magazine article Public Finance

FoI "Will Open Up" Public Sector Deals

Magazine article Public Finance

FoI "Will Open Up" Public Sector Deals

Article excerpt

The public sector should be less likely to accept 'blanket' commercial confidentiality clauses from private contractors once the Freedom of Information Act comes into force next month.

In an interview with Public Finance, assistant, information commissioner Phil Boyd said the Act would tighten up procurement in the public sector, with bodies more easily held to account for their contracting decisions.

He said that in the past 'it may have suited' some authorities not to disclose information because the results could have been potentially embarrassing.

'The instinct has been not to disclose anything unless we have to, and accept confidentially clauses when the information isn't really confidential. At the very least, what will happen is the public authority will have to actually question those confidentiality clauses. And that's bound to change the way people operate.'

Boyd said the information commissioner expected that more data about problems in procurement, such as delays and IT cock-ups, would come to light much earlier.

He added that there would be two drivers for opening up commercial information: the precedents set as the information commissioner rules on disclosures, and the culture of the Act, which obliges bodies to be more open. …

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