Confidentiality and disclosure of government contracts

(Report 8: 2017–18)

Audit objective

In this audit, we examined the use of confidentiality provisions in Queensland Government contracts. We also assessed whether selected departments met contract disclosure requirements. The audit included the:

  • adequacy of current guidance available to aid staff in these activities
  • impact of these activities on accountability and transparency.

Overview

The Queensland Government has adopted a model of openness through the routine release of information to the public. The government aims to make information available to the public as a matter of course, unless there are compelling reasons for keeping it confidential.

While confidentiality provisions are required for government to protect sensitive information for itself and its stakeholders, inappropriate use can reduce transparency and public trust in government. 

Recommendations

Department of Housing and Public Works

We recommend that the Department of Housing and Public Works' Office of the Chief Advisor—Procurement:

1.

improves guidance and training available to agencies on the use of confidentiality provisions and disclosure of contracts

The enhancements should include guidance on:

  • the appropriate use and recording of confidentiality provisions (Chapter 2)
  • when partial or non-disclosure of reportable contracts is appropriate. (Chapter 3)

Whole-of-government

We recommend that the Department of Housing and Public Works in consultation with the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, and other relevant departments:

2.

determine the most appropriate place and process to disclose reportable contracts to achieve the desired outcome of providing a complete and accurate public record of awarded contracts

The enhancements should include:

  • reporting all Procurement Guidelines—Contract Disclosure minimum reporting requirements (Chapter 3)
  • the ability for agencies to record when and why they have used specific confidentiality provisions. (Chapter 3) 

 All agencies

We recommend that all public sector agencies:

3.

meet all mandatory requirements set out in Procurement Guidelines—Contract Disclosure

This includes ensuring that:

  • agency procurement policies and procedures include these requirements for contract disclosure (Chapter 3)
  • disclosure requirements are communicated to and enacted by officers undertaking procurement activities (Chapter 3)
4.

improve their contract registers or contract management systems to ensure a complete record of all awarded contracts

The enhancements should include:

  • consolidating all contracts in one record, or where a decentralised model is elected, maintaining this information in a consistent format so that it can be consolidated (Chapter 3)
  • documenting whether a contract has specific confidentiality provisions and the reasons for their use (Chapter 2)
  • documenting reasons for non-disclosure of contracts. (Chapter 2)

Other reports and resources

Contract management renewal and transition (Report 10: 2013–14)
Fraud risk management (Report 6: 2017–18)