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Software contracts and expenditure

FOI16710 - Request for information


Thank you for your email of 6 October 2016 requesting the following information in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000:

  1. Please provide details of expenditure on software for the years 2014/15 and 2015/16 broken down by software supplier.
  2. Please provide details of software contracts due to expire before 31st December 2017, broken down by supplier and date.
  3. Please provide details of expenditure on perpetual software licences for the years 2014/15 and 2015/16 broken down by software supplier.

Our Response

Section 12 of the FOIA

We confirm that we hold this information. However, it is clear that the time spent dealing with the requests will exceed a period of 18 hours, and we are therefore entitled to refuse to comply with the request pursuant to section 12(1) of the FOIA (where the authority estimates that the cost of complying with the request would exceed the appropriate limit).

The information which you have requested, in particular in questions 1 and 3, is not readily accessible. Our information on software expenditure and perpetual software licences is not held solely by reference to the software supplier (some of our information is held as against the software product itself rather than the supplier, and other information is held by reference to the distributor rather than the original software supplier). Furthermore, some of the information which we hold conflates expenditure on software supply with expenditure incurred in relation to software maintenance.

To supply you with the information requested would require us to categorise expenditure differently to how it is currently categorised. This would be a manual exercise, which would require us to locate and analyse many of the underlying contracts, to ensure that all expenditure has been attributed to the correct supplier, and solely to software supply rather than maintenance.

Please note that, in the event that the appropriate limit were not exceeded, it is likely that much of the information requested would be withheld under one or both of sections 43(2) (Commercial interests) and 41(1) (Information provided in confidence). Although we do not seek to rely on sections 43(2) or 41(1) in this response, we set out below a brief explanation as to why these exemptions may be applicable. Note that as we are not relying on these two exemptions, we have not (i) carried out a public interest test in relation to section 43(2), and (ii) completed a third party consultation exercise.
Section 43(2) (Commercial Interests) of the FOIA

The Information Commissioner recognises that some public authorities are permitted to engage in commercial activities and that information held in relation to these will fall within the scope of Section 43(2).

Disclosure of the information you have requested would potentially be capable of prejudicing commercial interests in the following ways:

  • release of expenditure information could damage the commercial interests of our third party suppliers, who may not wish such expenditure to be known in the market, as such knowledge would weaken their negotiating position when trying to make future sales to other organisations;
  • release of expenditure information could also damage OS’s commercial interests, in that third party suppliers may, in the future, be reluctant to offer OS any discounted price, since they would know that the availability of such a discounted price would be likely to be disclosed further to an FOI request; and
  • release of expiry dates of contracts would potentially prejudice the third party supplier, as it would lead to the supplier’s competitors approaching OS as the expiry date approaches to attempt to win the business away from the existing supplier.

Section 41(1) of the FOIA

Under Section 41 of FOIA 2000, public authorities are not obliged to comply with any request for disclosure which would constitute a breach of confidence actionable by the person to whom a confidentiality obligation is owed. The disclosure of expenditure under the software contracts is particularly likely to be considered confidential by our software suppliers, and it is also likely that a number of our suppliers would consider expiry dates to be confidential.

Section 16

Under our duty to provide advice and assistance, set out in section 16 of the FOIA, we can provide the following information which may assist you in this matter.

Details of expenditure by Ordnance Survey on items over £500 relating to software for the year 2014 and January and February of 2015 may be found under our publication scheme via the following link: https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/about/governance/foi/publication-scheme/index.html

Internal review

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
Ordnance Survey
Adanac Drive
SO16 0AS

Email: foi@os.uk

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
Wycliffe House
Water Lane

Email: mail@ico.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone helpline: 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745 for advice, Monday to Friday.

Thank you for your enquiry.

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