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One Third of Public ICT Spend Goes Through Contracts Finder

I was inspired to do a bit of research after reading and excellent article by Peter Smith of Spend Matters here.

As a result of the updated procurement regulations in the UK, all public bodies are required to publish their opportunities with a value of >£10k on Contracts Finder. In theory, this makes it much easier for suppliers to identify opportunities, particularly those below the current EU thresholds.

Peter highlighted that these rules have an important exemption: contracts that are awarded under a framework agreement. These don’t have a publication requirement, and effectively draw a veil over the whole process (for any companies that aren’t on the framework, that is).

I wanted to see if this was true, so I thought I would do some analysis of the actual number of ICT contracts advertised on Contracts Finder over the last year, to see whether or not there was a discernible trend.

The short answer is: there wasn’t. The graph below summarises – I will try not to fool you with randomness.


However, it did pop up few useful bits of information, which I have shared here.

  • In total Contracts Finder has seen £4.5Bn of ICT contracts advertised in the period April to December 2015, across 1,635 opportunities, with an average value of £2.7m.
  • Annualised, that implies a total spend of about £5.98Bn on ICT is advertised through Contracts Finder.
  • We know from separate sources (mostly the Cabinet Office) that total public sector spend on ICT is of the order of £17Bn pa, so that suggests that Contracts Finder current captures something like 35% of the ICT market in public sector.

You can see my source data and workings on Dropbox here. I would welcome comments and/or suggestions for improvement.

Along the way I had to edit out a small number of very high value contracts that used CPV codes for ICT but which, on inspection of the description, were principally for other categories of supply (e.g. clinical supplies, architecture and construction, facilities management), along with some minor data formatting errors. As a result my totals will not exactly match the output from Contract Finder.