UK Government awards contract without tender using coronavirus pandemic as an excuse


Britain’s Cabinet Office awarded an £840,000 contract for researching public opinion about government policies, portions of which involved conducting focus groups related to Brexit rather than COVID-19, to Public First, a company owned by two long-term associates of Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove and special advisor Dominic Cummings, without putting the work out to tender. The government used COVID-19 emergency regulations allowing services to be urgently commissioned to justify skipping the tendering process. The contract, which was finally produced on June 5, was made retroactive to cover work carried out beginning on March 3 worth more than £253,000. A Cabinet Office spokesman said references to Brexit in the government’s official disclosures were misleading because the accounts department did not immediately open a cost code classification for the coronavirus crisis and instead used one that included communications about Brexit.
Writer: Peter Geoghegan
Publication: OpenDemocracy