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Firms fear Freedom Act will trigger head hunting


CONSTRUCTION FIRMS bidding for public contracts have expressed fears that information that could be valuable to their competitors is now publicly accessible under the Freedom of Information Act.

Since the act became law arlier this year, public clients have been flooded with requests for information on their projects.

Consultants and ntractors fear that rivals could use the act to gain the CVs of staff rated highly by clients in tender documents and then try to poach them.

Consultants that spoke to NCE this week said they had taken steps to make it clearer that copyright of their tender documents remains with them and that they cannot be released to the public.

'We've tried to protect ourselves by making it clear we have copyright on absolutely everything we submit, ' said one consultant.

Office of Government Commerce guidance on the act asserts that data on pricing and human resources in tender documents should not be released.

'But that doesn't mean it won't happen, ' said Matthew Barton, corporate counsel at contractor Kier.

'It could happen and there is not a great deal we can do about it really. Everybody is in the same boat and it will create a level playing field.' See feature, page 24

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