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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/open-standards-for-government/open-contracting-data-standard-profile
The standard defines a common data model to:
- provide a consistent way to disclose data and documents at all stages of the contracting process
- increase contracting transparency
- analyse contracting data
1. Summary of the standard’s use for government
Government contracting data disclosures must follow government policy and legislation.
You should use the OCDS standard for:
- planning - budgets, projects or procurements
- initiation - tender notices or specifications
- awards - details of a contract award or bidder information
- contracts - the final details of a contract or a signed contract
- implementation - payments, contract extensions or terminations
The design of the OCDS allows interoperable data. It also allows for the creation of extensions to the core OCDS structure. With these extensions you can make your own OCDS templates for your unique data that you would otherwise not publish. For example, a template for contracts registers.
2. How this standard meets user needs
You should use this standard when buying goods and services to disclose information at each stage of the contracting process.
The users of the disclosed information are:
- public sector organisations – buyers of goods and services
- potential and existing suppliers of goods, services and works to public sector organisations
- members of the public
The OCDS standard meets user needs by:
- including specifications that identify buyer and supplier organisations, the items procured and the procurement process
- using the information to understand who the suppliers are and how contracts are fairly awarded
- disclosing contracting information throughout the whole contracting process
- supporting many document and data formats (for example, by using JSON to serialise data and CSV for spreadsheets)
3. Benefits of using this standard
OCDS provides a model for government to be proactive and disclose public spending. You can start by publishing basic data, and then improve the quality and amount of data you publish.
OCDS helps you to capture and manage better quality data. For example, providing company identifiers and linking transactional spend with contracts.
When vendors use OCDS for information such as using common identifiers for all stages of the contracting process, it becomes possible to have a comprehensive understanding of public contracting. Having this transparency allows easier comparison of data between different public bodies.
4. How to use the standard
There are some functional requirements to use this standard.
The OCDS website lists what you need to start publishing OCDS data. You should:
- discuss the key users and use cases for your OCDS project
- identify the data and documents you will publish from your contracting process
- map your data against the OCDS building blocks
- present the data in JSON releases and records
- publish your data on the web using the publication patterns
- check the validation of your data
- encourage and help stakeholders use the data
OCDS only specifies how to provide metadata about contracting processes. You should use the PDF/A standards, or other suitable document publishing and archival standards, to make sure that documents associated with each contracting process are well maintained for future analysis.
You will also find it useful to use government URI guidance (Uniform Resource Identifier) with OCDS. Using URI will make sure each release of data that OCDS publish always has a permanent, unique URL. This is important for large-scale, long-running contracts where you must access historical information.