Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Procurex North - Manchester

A good event - I had a bit more time than usual to wonder the stands and meet up with friends old and new, such as Susan Rashid and Greg Jackson of Supply Chain Consultants - really good CIPS study centres.

My stint was quite short, and I will probably doing more at Procurex South at Olympia 20th April 2017.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Procurex North - Manchester 21st March 2017

Today is Procurex North in Manchester.  Hope to see you there.  I shall be running the Winning Tenders sessions from 12:20.  Feel free to come along and ask awkward questions.
If you can't make this Procurex South is 20th April 2017 at London Olympia.

12.20 - 12.45
Introduction to Public Procurement
12.50 - 13.15
Complying with the standard Selection Questionnaire (SQ)
13.20 - 13.45
Tenderers’ Common Mistakes
13.50 - 14.15
Addressing Sustainability in Your Tenders

Monday, 20 March 2017

Power, Corruption and Lies Part 2: DIT and Cultural Fit as an evaluation criteria

I don't want to be seen as regularly knocking the government, but another case has arisen that I think needs greater public scrutiny.

The Department for International Trade has advertised a low value tender (therefore not subject to the full weight of OJEU) that has as one of the award criteria 15% of marks for Cultural Fit - the others are Technical Competence 65% and Price 20%.

So we can see that Cultural fit is almost as important as price.  And we know that in practice the intangible element of culture can have a big impact on how a contract is actually carried out, so there is nothing wrong in principle with the idea.  But the question is of course, how are we defining Cultural Fit?  This could easily be a discriminatory question which would not be allowed ("you are from the North and don't fit into our Southern culture...")

In this case it is determined as;

  • Be focussed enough to stick to the task at hand and not be side-tracked in a vast and quick-moving field
  • Be committed and hard-working, to deliver under time pressures
  • Be enthused by the prospect of working at the frontline in such an exciting and dynamic area
  • Be committed to the best possible outcome for the United Kingdom following its departure from the European Union
Let's look at these.

Stick to the task - fair enough but rather a given I would have thought.
Be committed - as above. 
Be enthused - as above.   Can you imagine anyone bidding for this who was not enthused by the task?  They would simply not bid.  Likewise if they were not focussed, hard-working etc. then I cannot imagine they would admit that in their tender proposal.  I also find it hard to imagine how we might score these criteria.  Particularly as part of the process is a formal presentation - which is inevitably more subjective than a written proposal, and therefore potentially more open to challenge as not treating bidders equally.

The final point however is of course the real problem.  Be committed to the best possible outcome for the UK...  this sounds suspiciously like a political Brexit loyalty clause.  And therefore it stinks.  What if I believe the best possible post Brexit is to rejoin the EU forthwith?  Am I now excluded from winning?  This is a political vetting clause, and in no way fits with the requirement for non-discrimination.

I expect to see more of these "political loyalty" tests if this one is successful.  Why are they corruption?  Because it amounts to hiring suppliers that the minister likes, and fits his/her views rather than the best one for the job.  Which is classical government corruption.  No money needs to change hands - the minister benefits politically, and the UK taxpayer is not guaranteed best value for money.

A more elegant analysis of why this is illegal comes from Dr. Sanchez-Graellis of Bristol of University on his always interesting blog (well interesting to me)

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Power, Corruption and lies

CIPS in their ethics test describe Corruption as "the request, agreeing to or accepting a financial or other advantage intending that, in consequence a relevant function or activity is performed improperly"

This is the definition of Corruption that I am applying when I say that Deloitte deciding not to bid for UK Government contracts for 6 to 18 months in order to appease Ministers is corruption.  Ministers are agreeing to it for political and personal reasons rather than the good of the country.  There is no suggestion that they will benefit financially, though that is not the only definition of corruption.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Preparing Perfect Tenders, London 15th March 2017

Off to London to deliver Preparing Perfect Tenders for BIP Solutions.  Full details here.

Procurex North Manchester Central 21st March 2017

The seasons are turning, and as well as the cherry blossom, Procurex is coming around again.

The first is Procurex North at Manchester Central (next to GMex) on 21st March.

Looks good to me - but then again I am biased as I am running 4 training sessions.  Fewer than usual, so it gives me a chance to actually see some of the other interesting sessions.

Full details are here.   It is free for Public Sector delegates, and £95 for the private sector.

Hope to see you there - I do have more free time than usual so look forward to chatting.  Or wittering on - take your pick.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Deloitte and Public Procurement

Having had a very busy couple of months I find that I am still angry about Deloitte deciding not to bid for UK government contracts for 6 (or 18) months as a result of one of their staff leaking comments on UK government preparations for Brexit.

Let me just go over this again, now it has simmered gently.  Deloitte are a private company and are compelled to do what they think will create value for their shareholders.  They clearly think that NOT doing UK government contracts for 6 months will create value.  That MUST mean they think that there is more value coming as a result of this decision.

The awarding of UK government contracts is supposed to be an impartial process with contracts awarded to the best bidder.  If Deloitte believe that they will benefit from this approach they must believe that the process is open to external influence, otherwise whether they annoyed politicians or not would not matter.

Deloitte is a leading company that has won much government work in fair competition against others.  If they are not bidding then contracts are likely to go to organisations that are not as good as Deloitte would have been.  Potentially at higher prices.  The UK suffers because of Deloitte's decision not to bid.  And they have taken that decision to curry favour with politicians.

This is corruption just as much as if they were stuffing notes into brown envelopes.

I don't Deloitte.  I do blame our politicians.

In order to work effectively (whether in the EU, or not) public procurement must be open and fair, and be seen to be open and fair, with contracts going to the best bidder not people with the best contacts or relationships.  This business  damages all parties, and particularly taxpayers. 

If find myself getting more appalled not less.  Your mileage my vary.