Transparency and contracting out

Extend the statutory transparency and accountability of the State as far as taxpayer funding of services, including where those services are contracted out to private companies and not-for-profit organisations. 

The commercial and confidence provisions of the Official Information Act 1982 should not restrict access to information about what services are provided, by whom, at what cost, and the effectiveness of those services in meeting the needs of communities.

Extend the good employer provisions of the State Sector Act 1988 to social service providers, including not-for-profit organisations and private companies.

Why the contribution is important

The delivery of public services by the state is the clearest way to ensure accountability (through its democratic institutions) for the use of public funds (taxes) that have been raised through the powers of the state.  The delivery of public services has increasingly been contracted out to private companies.  The PSA also recognises that the community and voluntary sector has a proud history in delivering public good services in the days before comprehensive state provision, and will continue to provide services that complement those delivered by the state, whether or not they are funded by the state.  Their role has grown in social service delivery over recent decades and, through the links with their communities many are well placed to address poor outcomes for vulnerable groups where the state is not well placed to do so.

The transparency and accountability of the State in delivering and funding services, must extend as far as taxpayer funding of services delivered by third parties.  In this way, decisions about what services are delivered, by whom, at what cost and the effectiveness of those services are transparent to the taxpayers funding them and to the communities those services are serving.

by DairneGrant on August 24, 2016 at 10:11AM

Current Rating

Average rating: 5.0
Based on: 2 votes


  • Posted by JanRivers August 24, 2016 at 21:38

    This idea was made unprompted by several submitters to ECO's OGP survey. I have a personal view that a funding pot to ensure privatised service providers are able to answer OIA questions on the same basis as public services providers would assist in this effort.

    An additional action which I will add separately proposes that before services are contracted out they should be subject to a public research process including cost benefit analysis, comparing the opportunities made available by small teams and local delivery rahter than the resources available to a larger public sector body with standards and institutional knowledge, rather than an ideological preference that the private delivered arrangements will indeed be more effective especially when profits have to be added in.
  • Posted by engage2_Facilitator August 24, 2016 at 22:33

    Thanks for this suggestion. This also came up in one of the Open Data Teleconferences. A comment was made that greater transparency, as you propose, could also have the effect of building understanding amongst NGOs and smaller enterprises about how to participate in government procurement processes.
Log in or register to add comments and rate ideas