Thursday, 12 January 2017

Deloitte and Prime Minister Theresa May

I spat my coffee out when I read that Deloitte decided not to bid for UK government contracts because PM May was angry with them about a leaked document concerning Brexit.

Note that this was a "voluntary" decision by Deloitte - see Guardian here. There was not official sanction for Deloitte for the link, and is in no way linked to Deloitte's performance on current contracts.  For Deloitte this is a commercial decision to appease a politician in the hopes of currying favour.

This is a very slippery slope.  If the public procurement process can be used by politicians to influence contract award, we are well on the way to corruption and influence peddling.  It may be "accepted practice" for businesses who have upset a minister to "voluntarily" suspend bidding.  This corrupts the fairness, openness and transparency required in public procurement.  If only friends of the government bid we are all losers.

I was pleased to see that Pedro Telles of the excellent  thinks the same (and said it much earlier than me).  And in the interests of political balance he also points out that Jeremy Corbyn's comments on using Public Procurement to influence the pay structure of suppliers is equally preposterous. and would break the WTO Public Procurement Agreement.

Again, it cannot be said enough: If politicians interfere in the public procurement process we are opening the door to corruption, and the losers will be the public.

This is not the same as saying that Public Procurement cannot be used as an instrument of policy - for example to promotes SMEs and apprenticeships.  But once politicians start saying who can and cannot win contracts we are in banana republic territory.

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