Unsuccessful suppliers for IT contracts

FOI request reference: F0048532, F0048533
Publication date: April 2017

Request

– The names of the companies who unsuccessfully tendered for this recently awarded contract (Secure Gateway and VPN)

– The names of the companies who unsuccessfully tendered for this recently awarded contract (IT Service Support Management (ITSSM) Toolset).

Outcome

Successful

Response

I can confirm that The National Archives holds information relevant to your request.

Unfortunately we are unable to provide you with this information. This is because it is covered by exemption section 43(2) of the FOI Act. This exempts information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to; prejudice the commercial interests of any person (including the public authority holding it). Information relating to the unsuccessful suppliers of The National Archives’ contracts for both the Secure Gateway and VPN & IT Service Support Management Toolset are considered exempt under section 43(2) of the Act.

Section 43(2) is a qualified exemption and as such the National archives is required to conduct a public interest test. For further information about why these exemptions have been applied and the outcome of the public interest test, please see the explanatory annex at the end of this letter.

In case this information is of use, the secure gateway and VPN contract was competed via the Crown Commercial Service framework RM3733, Lot 4. Please use the following link to access a list of the suppliers within those lots of the framework:

https://ccs-agreements.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/contracts/rm3733

Please note that this list only indicates that these suppliers were given the opportunity to bid for the contract, but not that they necessarily bid for it.

Additionally the ITSSM contract was competed openly via a notice published on the contract finder website. This does not however detail the information of unsuccessful suppliers you have requested.

Explanatory annex

Exemption Applied – Section 43(2) – Commercial Interests

Section 43(2) exempts information if its disclosure would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of any person (including the public authority holding it).

Section 43(2) is a qualified exemption and we are required to conduct a public interest test when applying any qualified exemption. This means that after it has been decided that the exemption is engaged, the public interest in releasing the information must be considered. If the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in withholding it then the exemption does not apply and must be released. In the FOI Act there is a presumption that information should be released unless there are compelling reasons to withhold it.

Considerations in favour of the release of the information included The National Archives’ commitment to openness and transparency in its commercial activities, to allow public scrutiny and to demonstrate that public funds are being used in an efficient and effective way. Furthermore private sector companies engaging in commercial activities with the public sector must expect some information about those activities to be disclosed.

Considerations against disclosure included the recognition that disclosure may cause damage to an unsuccessful supplier’s reputation, affecting the supplier’s competitive position in their respective market and confidence that its customers, suppliers or investors may have in its commercial operations. Disclosure would be likely to deter potential bidders for future contracts from competing and sharing commercially sensitive information with us, which would negatively impact upon the quality and quantity of Governments’ supplier base. The National Archives must retain commercial confidence of third party bidders when they choose to engage in commercial activities with us. The release of this information may jeopardise this commercial confidence.

In conclusion, The National Archives have determined that it is not in the public interest to prejudice the commercial interests of the unsuccessful suppliers. As such this information has been deemed exempt from disclosure under section 43(2) of the Act.

Further guidance on section 43 can be found at:

http://ico.org.uk/for_organisations/guidance_index/~/media/documents/library/Freedom_of_Information/Detailed_specialist_guides/AWARENESS_GUIDANCE_5_V3_07_03_08.ashx