NZRise, an advocacy group for the local technology industry, is welcoming the initial release of open government procurement data, but also looking for improvements.
In a blog post, board member Laurence Millar applauded the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's (MBIE) "first step" towards increasing transparency through publication of details of awards made from 1 July to 30 September 2019.
NZRise has a specific interest in the division of government expenditure between NZ owned and overseas technology suppliers, Millar wrote, while other industry groups are also interested in the data to help analyse government spending for their own sectors.
The published data contains information on 614 tenders from 94 government agencies, including requests for proposal, requests for quotation and requests for tender.
"This initial release of the data highlights opportunities to improve the quality of the data loaded in these fields, which is the responsibility of individual government agencies," Millar wrote.
Inconsistency was an issue.
According to his analysis, 177 tenders (29 per cent) were recorded as “not awarded", however almost half had information about the successful supplier and the amount of the contract in a comments field.
Around 85 per cent of the tenders reported had information about the successful suppliers, but because of the use of the comments field and variations in company names it was not easy to conduct further analysis.
Finally, less than 40 per cent of the awarded tenders notified contained information about the value of the contract.
"This is not sufficient for further analysis to inform policy development," Millar wrote.
Twenty-two agencies published the award amount for every tender awarded while thirty-five did not publish the amount for any tender.
Millar gave a "shout out" to Department of Conservation, which published full award details for nine tenders.
"We have been closely involved in working with MBIE to achieve this first milestone, through workshops and reviews of datasets," Millar wrote, suggesting two areas that required improvement.
The first was to improve the quality of data entered by government agencies into the government tenders website and the publication of historic data to enable longitudinal analysis of procurement trends.
Millar's fellow NZRise board member, Shane Ross, wrote in the organisation's spring newsletter that while MBIE's opening position for the release was at odds with the industry’s view, MBIE was listening and made changes to both the initial delivery date of the data (October 2019 as opposed to July 2020) and the level of information included.
"NZRise still has some concern about the completeness of the data – largely impacted by governments use of secondary procurement processes – and we will make these public as the GETS open data is made available," he wrote.
MBIE said on the data's release that providing the information as open data fulfilled one of New Zealand’s commitments under the Open Government Partnership and the related National Action Plan 2018 - 2020.