Letter: No hiding in CCTA contracts

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The Independent Online
Sir: I read with interest Tim Kelsey's report 'Whitehall contracts hidden from view' (24 October) which quotes CCTA (the Government Centre for Information Systems) as 'the worst offender in Government' for failing to declare details of contract awards and, therefore, as being in breach of European law.

Mr Kelsey has misunderstood the relationship between CCTA and its customers and the basis on which 'Notices' are attributed. CCTA acts as a Procurement Agent for Government Departments and Agencies. Each procurement requires two entries in the Supplement to the Official Journal of the European Communities. The first, at the beginning of the procurement, invites potential suppliers to register their interest in the procurement and therefore CCTA, as procurement agent, is named in that entry.

The second entry, at the end of the procurement, records that a contract has been placed. Contracts are negotiated by CCTA, but the principal to those contracts is the government department or agency that will use the system or service. Thus the second entry shows the name of that user department or agency.

It follows therefore that CCTA's name appears many times at the beginning of the process, but rarely as the user of a computer system or service since its own internal computer needs are small. It is certainly not true to assert that CCTA contracts are hidden from view.

Yours faithfully, R. E. DIBBLE Director, CCTA Norwich 26 October