Newsletter: Thank You for the Sunshine Law! More is coming...

Newsletter: Thank You for the Sunshine Law! More is coming...

Last week, after three years of discussions and negotiations, lawmakers finally passed the Bill on the Register of Contracts. That is to say, a Sunshine Law under which public contracts must be disclosed online so that anyone can see them. It’s neither magic wand nor magic bullet, but it’s still the biggest move towards a more open public administration in the last fifteen years.

Refresh your memory of the bill’s sometimes arduous journey in this brief history.

Many thanks to all the politicians who worked relentlessly on the bill and ultimately voted in its favour. But a big thank-you likewise goes to all of you who have been watching the bill’s journey and supporting it along the way. Those of you who emailed and spoke with deputies, helped to spread information, and supported us financially or in any other way. This wouldn’t have been possible without you!

How open is open contracting going to be?

  • The key principle of the bill has been saved, i.e. the sanction mechanism under which a contract concluded between the State and another party (public or private) only enters into force after it’s been disclosed online.
  • Metadata (basic data about the contract) as well as the full text of the contract in a machine-readable format must be published in the register (personal information and trade secrets are protected and may be blackened out).
  • An exemption has been granted for municipalities with a population of approx. 5,000 or less, the energy company ČEZ, selected institutions such as the Chamber of Deputies, Senate, and the Supreme Audit Office, and health insurance companies (after assurances that the latter will be covered in a separate law).
  • The new Act will take effect on 1 July 2016; the sanction mechanism will become effective on 1 July 2017.
  • Despite its exemptions and compromises, the Act will improve some of the current problems in the transparency of public procurement, and will shed light on more than 300 “public billions” annually.

Read more about the new Sunshine Law as well as other updates from Reconstruction of the State in our latest newsletter.