The people of Wales should be able to benefit from open data in Welsh procurement

Colour photo of a fruit and veg stall. To the right a woman is examining the produce.
Fruit and Veg Stall by Nanimo

Wales has a National Procurement Service (NPS) which is there

“to enable the Welsh public sector to collaborate more closely in procuring goods and services”.

The NPS is in the midst of supplier engagement on a new framework to cover digital services. Given the existing UK frameworks for digital services this may or may not be a good idea. NPS feels the UK frameworks don’t address language issues and other requirements particular to Wales

The Welsh Government is “Committed to Open Data” according to its Open Data Plan. As far as we can see the NPS has no open data plan and the work on the digital framework is not considering the government’s open data plan at all.

This is a pity because open data and procurement are perfect partners. Open data can drive efficiency and transparency in procurement processes as well as having wider benefits.

A fit for purpose procurement process should address open data at least in the following areas:

  • performance against contract targets
    Suppliers should be required to publish their performance as open data. And the performance of previous suppliers should be published as open data. This will help customers and suppliers understand which are the challenging parts of the contracts and should lead to improved performance over time.
  • administrative (exhaust) data
    In order to deliver a service, lots of data has to be collected and used. This data is typically locked in the systems of suppliers but if it is published as open data has potentially high economic value.
  • reference data
    In order to deliver a service, a supplier may need to collect data for reference (to provide IT support a supplier will need to know where local authority buildings are). Ideally suppliers should use existing open sources of this data and they should certainly publish reference data that they create in the contract.
  • infrastructure data
    Many contracts let by public bodies in Wales have as their primary purpose the creation of data or information. These datasets should be open by default and published to a high standard.

Our colleagues in ODI headquarters have published a guide to open data and procurement. This is aimed at English and UK public bodies but its principles hold true for Wales.

We really shouldn’t be having to have this conversation in Wales. We should be talking about how quickly we can move the open data to five star status. We should be talking about what the open data tells us about public services in Wales. We should be using the open data to help us understand the impact on the wellbeing of future generations.

Let’s hope we can start having those conversations soon.

The Cambrian News helps readers understand the attendance of their councillors

We’d like to highlight a nice piece of data journalism from Ceredigion.

Cambrian News reporter Caleb Spencer wanted to make the information on councillors’ attendance at meetings more accessible to his readers. He created a visualisation in CartoDB which breaks the information down by ward.

The full article How does your councillor’s attendance record stack up? was published on The Cambrian News