The Czech Republic came significantly closer to publishing full texts of all contracts signed by the public sector last Friday when the lower house of the national parliament approved the Bill on the Repository of Contracts. According to this legislation, contracts that are not published in the Central Repository in due time will be regarded as invalid. This is a step forward for transparency and open data, giving Czech citizens the ability to better hold their government accountable.
The bill applies to most institutions in the public sector, including national-level government agencies, regional and municipal authorities, educational and medical institutions (e.g. universities, grant agencies, public hospitals and insurance companies), publicly owned companies, public media, and authorities responsible for redistribution of the EU funds.
Machine-readable (and thus easily searchable) texts of contracts together with at least four key types of metadata will be published in a central repository that already exists and where several institutions have been publishing contracts voluntarily.
The most important element of the bill is the provision which states that contracts not published in the repository within one year are regarded as invalid from the outset. This is the most effective mechanism of enforcement since it incentivizes self-policing.
The complete article can be read at Sunlight Foundation.
It is partly republished here with the kind permission of Kamil Gregor, data analyst.