One Among Thousands – Creating a Dictionary of Public Sector Buyers.

December 17, 2020
Data

Here are just three among thousands of public sector buyers:

YPO,

JISC,

NOE CPC.

Who are they? What do they do? Are they a private organisation or a public organisation? Every month, we get data for tens of thousands of unique buyer names just like these, from around the world. We answer the questions of who they are and what they do, day in and day out.

Our process for doing this is using data that stretches back almost ten years to validate the existence of public sector bodies based on their buying trends. We also use scripts,  research and due diligence.  Collating government tenders should be a straightforward exercise, but it very rarely is.

Take education in the UK. There are in fact two departments: Department for Education and Department of Education, one for NI (the latter), one for the rest of the UK. Data entry isn’t always perfect and it’s an easy mistake with one letter differentiating between the two departments.

Another example is the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea which has a multitude of name permutations, including RBK, RBK&C, Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Borough of Chelsea, Borough of Kensington.

In the case of name changes, there’s often a lack of clarity around the basis for an organisation’s name change. For instance, if a school no longer features on Edubase, it is unclear whether the school has closed or has just left Edubase. There’s also no common event for the creation of a public body. Typically, the creation of a new organisation relies on a superior body to give the new entity legal status, e.g. the Department of Education creates a new school.

This is not limited to the UK, but extends to other countries around the world. The Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social or IMSS (Mexican Institute of Social Security) has at least 77 different names on our data,  most relating to sub-departments. And this is from a single data publisher: Mexico’s Compranet.

In these examples and countless more, we fill in the gaps to make our data better. We validate and reconcile with existing registers where they exist with other data sources that act as near-registers or proxies.

We also get hundreds, sometimes thousands of new strings every month. Some of these are reconcilable, others completely new values. Nonetheless, the use of public procurement systems is probably the most visible and accessible method for validating the legitimacy of a public body. That is to say, we know they let a contract, so therefore they must exist.

We’re working hard to reconcile the entities and fill the gaps in the UK and around the world. As we do so, our list of entities gets more comprehensive. We believe that expanding and maintaining this register is key to understanding a fuller picture of global public procurement.

Get in touch if we can assist your business with our global government procurement data.

Photo by Mika Baumeister

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