Bill on Register of Contracts - history and facts

Key statistics:

  • Comments on and impact analyses of the legislation have been provided by 3 governments to date.
  • The bill has so far taken 40 months to debate (Slovak legislative process took 3 months)
  • 163 Deputies and 22 Senators announced their support to the bill before the elections; 75 Deputies (and 54 in the previous Chamber of Deputies) jointly tabled it.
  • Two impact studies on the practical value of the bill have been commissioned.
  • A working group of Reconstruction of the State has prepared the total of 331 pages of legal analysis concerning the bill. Since January 2015 alone, we have had 32 personal meetings with political party representatives.
  • The bill and its sanctions should come into force on 1 July 2017.
  • Every year about 215 billion crowns’ worth of public procurement cases never gets disclosed. On the whole, we don’t get to “see” about 690 billion crowns’ worth disclosed (sum of all public budgets).
  • More than 50 municipalities already disclose their contracts on their own accord.
  • The Mayors who voted not to wait for the legislation have started their own register, whose cost was estimated to be only 1 million CZK.
  • Following the introduction of the register of contracts, Slovakia reports a three-time increase in applications for public procurement contracts.

Bill timeline:

June 2012 – Bill tabled by lawmaker Jan Farský, who was inspired by the Slovak model. House prematurely dissolved, bill not discussed as a consequence.

September 2013 – 163 MPs solemnly undertake, before elections, to support the bill including the sanction mechanism according to which the contracts that are not published are invalid.

December 2013 – Jan Farský again puts the bill forward. On Reconstruction of the State’s prompt, the bid is supported by 74 MPs for KDU-ČSL, ANO and TOP09/STAN. The bill becomes a part of the Coalition Agreement as well as the new Government Policy Statement.

January 2014 – MPs send the bill to several committees.

Spring 2014 – Lower House again debates the bill and asks the government to draft amendments on which the whole Coalition will agree.

July 2014 – Reconstruction of the State meets with the Prime Minister, who instructs the Ministry of the Interior to proceed with the preparations of the government amendment. For reasons unknown, his then deputy Adriana Krnáčová formulates a proposal in August 2014, which would allow the publication of completely blackened-out contracts.

Winter 2014/2015 – a minimalist new draft still reflects the original demands, but an impact study is commissioned. Since then, a succession of Coalition meetings has additionally altered the original joint proposal. An anonymous author inserts an opt-out for ČEZ to the text.

March 2015 – Ministry of the Interior and the Reconstruction of the State Expert Group present two different cost estimates concerning the enactment of the bill. Prime Minister urges ČSSD ministers to start disclosing contracts.

May 2015 – Reconstruction of the State launches a campaign with well-known figures and releases an Encyclopaedia of the Contract Register Bill.

June 2015 – In a third attempt, the bill advances to a second reading in the Chamber of Deputies—after an appeal to the heads of deputies’ clubs. Lawmakers file 50 partial amendments including several problematic issues.

2 September 2015 – The House Constitutional Committee, a guarantor in accordance with the new Rules of Procedure, recommends that vote be held on the compromise version of the bill presented by the government.

18 September 2015 – The Chamber of Deputies passes the draft bill on the register of contracts in the coalition version, with 4 amendments.

23 October 2015 – The Senate returns the bill to the Lower House in an amended version which completely rejects the main principle of the bill, i.e. the sanction mechanism according to which a contract only takes effect after it is published online, and replaces it with ineffective control system and financial fines. It also includes several vague provisions which may seriously complicate the bill’s practical implementation. Reconstruction of the State publishes comparison of both drafts.

13 November 2015 – Reconstruction of the State receives information that some coalition deputies will not support their own draft (as expected) but plan to vote for the Senate version instead. Together with our partners, ambassadors, celebrities and the public, Reconstruction of the State immediately starts approaching deputies from all parliamentary parties. We make numerous phone calls and attend meetings, urging the deputies to vote for the original coalition draft.

24 November 2015 – After more than a two-hour debate, during which Reconstruction of the State is mentioned 22 times, 110 deputies across the political spectrum vote for the original Chamber version of the Bill on the Register of Contracts. Reconstruction of the State sincerely thanks all the deputies who eventually voted in favour of the bill. As well as all its partners, long-term supporters and fans.