Request for information – FOI14415
Thank you for your e-mail of 12 September 2013 requesting the following information from Ordnance Survey in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000:
I would like to, on behalf of xxxxxx, make a Freedom of Information request with regards to the following subject:
The responses of SFW Limited (who were awarded the contract) to the Agile Software Development Partner Services invitation to tender document (OJEU Ref: 2013/S 037-058695, Ordnance Survey tender reference: 01-13).
I confirm that Ordnance Survey does hold the ITT response from SWF Limited in relation to the above tender.
As per best practice guidance Ordnance Survey has consulted with third parties, in this case SFW Limited, when considering the disclosure of this information in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000.
Following consultation and having considered our own position we will not be releasing the requested information under Section 43 (2) of the FOIA – Commercial Interests. We detail our reasons below.
Firstly, we consider the information contained with the ITT provided by SWF Ltd to be commercially sensitive to them. The document has taken considerable time, effort, skill, experience and knowledge on their part to produce, and it would not be fair to allow their successful format, in full, to be placed in the public domain.
Ordnance Survey does not consider it appropriate to make available the successful (and current) ITT in this instance, as it would enable other companies and organisations to adopt a 'cut and paste' approach, which would not necessarily result in the best or most suited company being awarded the contract, following our procurement process, a practice for which there is no public interest.
By withholding successful ITT information, Ordnance Survey is able to ensure that future ITTs are a sound and fair representation of the knowledge, skills and expertise that an organisation has, to enable Ordnance Survey to ensuring the correct award is made in line with our Procurement process – in which there is public interest.
Additionally, as a government department, Ordnance Survey is concerned with organisations being able to operate fairly and equitably in the marketplace. Consequently, we do not consider the release of such information would enable fair competition between organisations, as it would cause detriment to the organisations who have spent considerable time and effort in providing an initial successful tender, because their effort, format, thought process and items of inclusion could be unfairly adopted by other bidders in future.
Finally, we have also given consideration to the time factor in this instance – being this contract has been very recently awarded. It is the Information Commissioners view, that more current awards are commercially sensitive in comparison with historic awards.
The use of Section 43 is subject to a public interest test.
Whilst we recognise there is a general public interest in the disclosure of information, as greater transparency make Government more accountable, against this there is a public interest in ensuring that the commercial interests of external businesses are not damaged or undermined, and that this does not affect the opportunities for fair competition.
Given our reasoning above, we are satisfied that in this instance the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure of the requested information.
Under our duty to provide advice and assistance, Section 16 of the FOIA, although Ordnance Survey is not releasing the information you have requested, we do remind you that Earthware Ltd will have received a 'Notification of Contract Award Decision' regarding this tender, which provides feedback on the scores awarded to yourself and SFW Limited with reasons for the award of score, which is intended as guidance in this matter. This will enable you to evaluate in which categories you may have been weaker or stronger than the successful tender.
Your enquiry has been processed according to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000. If you are unhappy with our response, you may request an internal review with our FOI Internal Review Officer, by contacting them as follows:
FOI Internal Review Officer
Customer Service Centre
Please include the reference number above. You may request an internal review where you believe Ordnance Survey has:
- Failed to respond to your request within the time limits (normally 20 working days)
- Failed to tell you whether or not we hold the information
- Failed to provide the information you have requested
- Failed to explain the reasons for refusing a request
- Failed to correctly apply an exemption or exception
The FOI Internal Review Officer will not have been involved in the original decision. They will conduct an independent internal review and will inform you of the outcome of the review normally within 20 working days, but exceptionally within 40 working days, in line with the Information Commissioner’s guidance.
The FOI Internal Review Officer will either: uphold the original decision, provide an additional explanation of the exemption/s applied or release further information, if it is considered appropriate to do so.
Appeal to Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)
If, following the outcome of the internal review you remain unhappy with our response, you may raise an appeal with the Information Commissioner’s Office at:
The Case Reception Unit
Customer Service Team
The Information Commissioner’s Office
Telephone helpline: 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745 for advice, Monday to Friday.
Thank you for your enquiry.