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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/open-standards-for-government/open-contracting-data-standard-profile
Standard to be used: OCDS V 1.1.
This profile is for the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) to be used in the disclosure of data and documents at all stages of the government’s contracting process. Such disclosures must be in line with government policy, and guided by current information legislation and statutory guidance. The OCDS provides an established specification for publishing structured data on all stages of the contracting process.
OCDS is designed for global interoperability, but also includes a mechanism for local extensions which would support the addition of any UK policy-specific fields and flags. It is possible to create simplified OCDS templates for disclosure of selected data at key stages (eg template for contracts registers).
2. User need approach
The users in the context of this standard are public sector organisations – buyers of goods, services and works – who will disclose the information across the whole contracting process. The users of the disclosed information are:
- public sector organisations – buyers of goods, services and works
- potential and existing suppliers of goods, services and works to public sector organisations
- members of the public
These users’ needs are met by the standard as:
OCDS includes specifications for how to identify buyer and supplier organisations, the items procured, and the process of procurement
these fields of information are key to understanding the fair award of contracts, and who the suppliers are
OCDS is specifically oriented towards disclosure of contracting information across the whole contracting process. It currently supports serialisation of data as JSON, and CSV for spreadsheets responding to the different needs of different users
3. Achieving the expected benefits
OCDS is specifically oriented towards disclosure of contracting information across the whole contracting process. It provides a model for proactive disclosure, in which public bodies can start by publishing the data they easily have access to, but then can step-by-step improve that data and publish more.
To address some user needs will require better data, structured data capture and management (eg providing company identifiers; linking transactional spend with contracts), and through OCDS there is a pathway to doing this. If vendors include support for OCDS in their systems, particularly the concept of common identifiers across the contracting process, it becomes possible to gain a more comprehensive picture of public contracting, and to compare data from different public bodies more easily.
4. Functional needs
OCDS version 1.1 covers all the required functional needs within the core specification.
An OCDS document is text based and made up of a number of sections. These are represented in JSON format.
5. Other steps to achieving interoperability
OCDS only specifies how to provide meta-data about contracting processes. It could be paired with PDF/A standards, or other suitable document publishing and archival standards to ensure that documents associated with each contracting process are well maintained for future analysis.
It would also benefit from application of government URI guidance to ensure each published OCDS release of data is maintained at a unique URL indefinitely. This is particularly important for large scale contracts which may last many years, or even decades, and for which access to historic information is particularly important.