Public sector organisations have, according to guidance, thirty days to publish details of their contracts online, but our research shows that in recent years, only a few departments actually did so.
Lollipop chart showing time taken to publish contract award notices
Lollipop chart showing time taken to publish contract award notices

How Long Does It Take A Department To Publish A Contract Notice?

January 31, 2021
Analysis, Data

Public sector organisations have, according to guidance, thirty days to publish details of their contracts online. So, thirty days after a contract there should be a public notice with some key details about the contract online.

Our analysis shows that on average, just three departments met the thirty day guideline in 2020. In 2019, just two departments met the guideline. In 2020 the average time between the contract start date and the contract publication date was 105 days, more than three times longer than the recommended timeframe.

The worst performer in 2020 was the DWP who took an average 233 days to publish a contract notice. A special mention must also go to DEFRA, who managed to increase their average time to publish a notice by more than one thousand percent.

Time taken to publish

Department 2019 2020 %
ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE 57 47 -18%
CABINET OFFICE 167 92 -45%
DEPARTMENT FOR DIGITAL, CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT 56 98 75%
DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION 81 127 58%
DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS 18 200 1039%
DEPARTMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT 91 171 88%
DEPARTMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL TRADE 147 97 -34%
DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT 52 30 -42%
DEPARTMENT FOR WORK AND PENSIONS 100 233 134%
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE 32 11 -64%
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE 82 151 84%
DEPT FOR BUSINESS, ENERGY AND INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY 56 80 44%
FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE 103 179 74%
HM REVENUE AND CUSTOMS 47 70 48%
HM TREASURY 163 88 -46%
HOME OFFICE 36 136 279%
MINISTRY OF DEFENCE 41 140 244%
MINISTRY OF HOUSING COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNME 214 13 -94%
MINISTRY OF JUSTICE 117 39 -66%

Notes on this analysis: Data was taken from documents published on Contracts Finder between 01/01/2018 and 31/12/2020. Days to publish was taken from the start date of a contract and the date of publication. Departmental analysis includes departmental bodies, e.g. performance by Department of Health and Social Care includes contracts awarded by Public Health England. We have continued to keep the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office separate as the bulk of the data in our analysis was published separately.

If you’d like to discuss our research or our government procurement data services, please get in touch.

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