UK publishes anti-corruption strategy update

The UK adopted in late 2017 a anti-corruption strategy for the 2017-2022 period. One year on from the publication of the original strategy, an update has just been released.

Reducing corruption in public procurement and grants was and remains a key objective of the strategy, but whereas the original strategy included some loftier ambitions, the update provides some information on how the strategy is being pursued.

Some of the information is interesting to say the least, such as attributing an increase in 31% of the number of notices being published on ContractsFinder to a specific single Procurement Policy Note and that the open contracting standard work appears to be ongoing but without any firm commitments on the deployment of the open contracting data standard for example.

The CMA cartel screening tool also gets mentioned (and I think correctly - brownie points for it to be available on GitHub) as does the National Fraud Initiative and its work with local authorities to identify risk factors.

Going forward, the bit I am personally more interested in is buried under goal 3 - greater confidence in efficient and legitimate contract management an area that is sorely lacking attention. Not necessarily only regulatory attention, but also that of the practical type. The update mentions a Contract Debarment trial that was successfully completed in June 2018 and that a preferred approach will be forthcoming in 2019. Contract debarment is an area fraught with practical difficulties and one I think needs to be tackled centrally and not at authority level.

Finally, the update also promises specific guidance on how to apply exclusions in public procurement in December 2018, so that means within the next couple of weeks. This is once more welcomed but in all honestly should have been produced in 2015 or 2016 soon after the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 came into force

Links I Liked [Public Procurement]

1. Spanish Council of State gives its blessing to the new Public Sector Contracts Law. The law is yet to be published and coming into force though.

2. SpendNetwork wants to open up tender notice data and making it available under the Open Contracting Data Standard.

3. Albert comments on AG Sharpston opinion about financial guarantees in cases C-439/14 and C-488/14. I broadly agree with both AG Sharpston's and Albert's view on the matter but the impact on countries such as Portugal, Spain (and Italy?) where financial guarantees are a staple of local practice will be immense. Word on the street is that cash strapped authorities use those financial guarantees to ease up cashflow issues...

4. World Bank publishes new report on Functions, Data and Lessons Learned on Suspension and Debarment.

5. Liberia is outsourcing its schools to a startup. For all the debate about public and private education in Portugal (and the UK), this is an interesting development.