NZRise is delighted to see the first release of information from GETS as open data. MBIE has published details of awards made from 1 July to 30 September 2019 as open data, and we applaud this first step toward increasing transparency in government procurement. The publication is part of a commitment from the NZ government under the Third Open Government Partnership Plan.
The availability of data about government expenditure is an essential first step in determining how the expenditure aligns with policy objectives. For example, the 4th edition of the Procurement Rules specifies that Cabinet expects agencies to Increase New Zealand businesses’ access to government procurement: increasing the number of New Zealand businesses contracting directly to government, and within the supply chain. This includes Māori businesses and Pasifika businesses. Measurement on the achievement of this outcome requires accurate data on agency purchasing decisions, which is available in the Government Electronic Tenders Service (GETS).
NZRise also have a specific interest in the division of government expenditure between NZ owned and overseas technology suppliers, and other industry groups are also interested in this analysis for their sector.
The published data contains information on 614 tenders (Requests for Proposal, Requests for Quotation, Requests for Tender) issued by 94 government agencies. The most valuable fields for analysis are:
- Award type – either Awarded or Not Awarded.
- Award amount – the amount of the contract
- Supplier name – the supplier(s) that have been
awarded the contract
This initial release of the data highlights opportunities to improve the quality of the data loaded in these fields, which is the responsibility of individual government agencies. For example:
- 177 tenders (29%) are recorded as “Not Awarded”. However almost half of these (88) have information about the successful supplier(s) and the amount of the contract in the Comments field.
- Around 85% of the tenders have information about the successful suppliers, but because of the use of Comments field, and variations in company names it is not easy to conduct further analysis.
- Less than 40% of the awarded tenders have information about the value of the contract (either using the Award Amount or the Comments field). This is not sufficient for further analysis to inform policy development.
- 22 agencies published the award amount for every tender awarded. 35 agencies did not publish the award amount for any tender that they awarded. The remaining 37 agencies fell between these two extremes.
- Many agencies scored 100% because they published the award amount for one or two tenders. A special shout out to the Department of Conservation, which published the award details for nine tenders including amounts that were awarded during the period; however these were published using the Comments field, so there is still room to improve.
We have been closely involved in working with MBIE to achieve this first milestone, through workshops and reviews of datasets. This first step provides a platform to move forward with two major types of improvements:
- Better quality of data entered by government agencies into GETS
- Historic data to enable longitudinal analysis of trends in government procurement
Because there is only data for one quarter, it is not possible to perform any trend analysis at this stage. However, once data quality improvement provides a robust foundation, data analysis can effectively inform future development of procurement policy to achieve government goals.
We strongly encourage government agencies to improve the quality of data that they record in the GETS system, and we look forward to better government procurement based on the evidence from analysis of awards.
By Laurence Millar, NZRise Board Member.
Want to know more? Read Laurence’s piece calling for improved transparency in Government procurement.
For more information, questions or comments, please contact [email protected]