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Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 came into force on 1 January 2005 and requires all local authorities to give access to recorded information about, amongst other things, its contracts. It is not lawful for the TPC to 'contract out' of its Freedom of Information obligations.

The exemptions allowed under the Act are limited and most are also subject to a test that the public interest in withholding the information is greater than the public interest in releasing it (the 'public interest test').

In so far as contract information is concerned, some of the Scottish Information Commissioner's recent decisions (see www.itspublicknowledge.info/ApplicationsandDecisions/Decisions/Decisions.php) have made it clear than the exemption for commercial interests (where disclosure would be likely to prejudice substantially the commercial interests of any person, subject to the public interest test) will not be readily met unless genuine and substantial commercial prejudice can be established.

This is supplementary to the EU procurement rules applying to contracts above the relevant EU contract value thresholds (roughly, £174k for supplies or services contracts, £4.3m for construction works contracts). In summary, these provide for confidentiality to be preserved for bidders' tender information during the tender process and for ongoing confidentiality for technical and trade secrets but for mandatory publication of invitation to tender and contract award information. Other information may require to be made available on request.

As such, suppliers doing business with Tayside Procurement Consortium should expect that their names and contact details along with the total (but not itemised) contract pricing information may be made publicly available shortly after contract award.

Tayside Procurement Consortium will also pro-actively:

  • Intimate winning bidder and lowest price / most economically advantageous tender information to successful and unsuccessful bidders;
  • Provide tender de-briefing information on request to unsuccessful bidders; and
  • Publish contract award information on its website.

Further information on Freedom of Information generally is available on Dundee City Council's website under its Freedom of Information pages.

Glen Esk