Opinion: Taking the Mystery Out of Government Contracting

Government procurement is a $9.5 trillion industry, and supplying goods and services to the government is a core business function for thousands of companies around the world. In the U.S., contracts signed by both parties are usually not published, and are only released if someone files what is known as a freedom-of-information request with the relevant agency.

That’s inappropriate. Citizens paid for the services; they should know what they’re buying. But it is also a loss to the private sector. Keeping contracts hidden increases the cost and risk of bidding on government tenders, and so businesses should be leading the charge on contract transparency.

We know firms want access to government contracts because they are willing to pay for it. In the U.S., the company DelTek processes freedom-of-information requests for government contracts as part of an effort to help its clients win more government work. It boasts a contracts database of more than 1.7 million entries. There are similar pay-access databases for oil, gas and mining contracts. If firms know what previous contracts look like, it will help them bid for new work or licenses—or avoid bidding if they can’t compete. Continue>>>