Back in July, the London Assembly, Sir Eddie Lister (Boris’s Chief of Staff), TfL’s head lawyer and I had a long chat about transparency in the Greater London Authority and its functional bodies.
One of the topics we discussed was the use of Mayoral Decisions, the documents publishing every important, controversial or high value decision made by the Mayor.
Mayoral Decisions are split into two parts, a published Part One into which the detail and context of the decision are set out, and a private Part Two in which any confidential or sensitive information is placed for the Mayor’s reference and briefing.
Clearly there will always be some information that cannot go into the public realm but Sir Eddie was very clear that the Mayor’s team “are quite strict ourselves with making sure only the minimum goes in there”.
And for what its worth, I’ve always believed they play straight and fair with the use of the Part Two documents – I’ve found too many stories from the published Part One’s to be able to credibly claim information is hidden away simply because it’s embarrassing or unhelpful.
Alas, our mutual friends in the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime don’t seem to be playing quite as straight a game with their version of the Decision system.
A few days ago Deputy Mayor for Policing Stephen Greenhalgh signed a decision awarding Microsoft a contract to update Met Police server and desktop software.
The contract wasn’t put out to tender because MOPAC claimed an exemption under EU procurement rules on the grounds that they needed to use Microsoft software and there was only one source of it.
But they’ve also withheld the value of the contract, which in this case seems to be the wrong thing to do.
Normally the rationale for withholding the value is that this information would harm the tendering body’s commercial interests in the future.
But if there are no competitors to bid against Microsoft then there’s no harm telling the world how much MOPAC is paying for the services being provided.
Of course, Microsoft might prefer its other customers didn’t know how much London’s police are paying for its services, but that’s not a good enough reason for MOPAC to withhold the information, especially in light of the Assembly’s recent report revealing the scale of wasteful Met IT spending.
I‘ve asked the MOPAC to justify their decision not to reveal the contract’s worth and I’ll add their response to this post as soon as they oblige.
Update: September 6th Va a City Hall spokesperson, MOPAC tells me there are “on-going contract negotiations taking place” but once these are completed the full cost of the deal will be published.