FOI Act a useful tool for companies

Contractors are using the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act to enhance their bidding techniques and gain information on failed bids, using third parties to protect their identities according to Contract Journal. The director of a leading construction company told the Journal: “With the cost of bidding, anything which gives you the edge has got to make sense and that includes getting as much information about the client’s intentions, mindset or whatever.”

John Ashton, director of Freedom of Information, which makes third party FOI enquiries for clients, said: “The Act has opened up the potential for companies to get hold of a lot of direct and indirect information about contracts, in terms of bid assessment, evaluation criteria and background information, such as internal reports. This information can shape contract decisions and give an idea of the mindset of the client.”

He also commented that the US has had similar legislation on information for 40 years and it is commonplace for firms to use it for commercial advantage.

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust recently decided to post all FOI enquiries and responses on its website to prevent private firms profiting from the Act.

Act helps bidders raise their game (Contract Journal, 21 September 2005)