Monday, 27 July 2020

More about current poor government procurement

Peter Smith over at is laying out some of the problems with the government's current approach to procurement.

Over at Pedro Telles (always worth a read) is laying out some more.  He goes as far as to use the C-word; Corruption.  

This is not something we think about in the UK, but the whole of the EU (and current) UK procurement rules are based around trying to reduce the potential for corruption.  It is the elephant in the room.  The mechanisms chosen are competition and transparency - competition so that unless whole industries are colluding (and it does happen) we will get reasonable offers, and transparency so that everyone (suppliers and public alike) can see what is happening and complain if we see inappropriate behaviour.

Of course you can argue about how effective it is in practice, and whether there are other ways to avoid corruption, but that is the intention.

The Covid-19 pandemic has given an excuse (sometimes justified) to circumvent the usual processes. Sometimes this has happened even when existing frameworks could have been used.  It has become common to have very large direct awards without competition, and limited or no transparency at the time (or limited transparency at a later time when it is too late to do anything about it).

Now, there is a case that government is selecting good quality suppliers without having to go through red tape.  And that is usually the argument made - it is efficient.  Which may be true, but it is also the way you would choose to do things if you were wanting to corruptly appoint suppliers in return for backhanders or favours.  I'm not saying that is going on, I have no idea.  But the rules are there to try and reduce the potential for that sort of crime.

Criminals always seek to exploit difficult situations. We should be very careful, and recognise that the procurement regulations are not "bureaucracy" or "red tape" but a mechanism (however imperfect) for protecting the taxpayer.  That organisations such as The Taxpayer's Alliance are quiet about this, but not about wages for public servants, shows that they are not genuine about their purported purpose but are simply pushing a political agenda. (Which in itself would be fine if they were honest about it)

Friday, 17 July 2020

Bad Buying by Peter Smith

That's a book by Peter Smith, not examples of bad buying he has carried out!

 Not out till October, but it looks very interesting and I know I shall be first in line.  He promises it will cover Brandenburg airport in Berlin, which is one of my favourites (just because it is nice to have an example where we can compare with a British project that was mostly very successful - Heathrow Terminal 5).

In the meantime there is a website and Peter is promoting it on twitter at @gpetersmith.  
Peter is finding lots of things for the sequel in current government practices during the pandemic.

I only wish I had thought to write it first - but I am sure Peter will do a better job than I will.  
(I also expect lots of music tips)

Full disclosure - I've only ever met Peter once, when he asked me to write a brief article about tendering tips - which I never did! 

Thursday, 16 July 2020

IChemE - Restarting Supply Chains - 5th August 2020

Whatever we think about the current pandemic  - whether concerns are overblown, whether it will be over soon, or whether it is serious and we are stuck with it for months - it is clear that there has been major disruption to supply chains.   We can hope that everything will very quickly get back to normal - but there is an element of wishful thinking there.

You might think that this is a great chance to restructure your supply chains - or that things will quickly revert to exactly what they were before.

With IChemE we are running an online seminar that helps to cover all of these topics, and will help you to think through your options and choices.  And we hope to cover the possible disruptions caused by the UK leaving the EU REACH regime a bit too.

As with any disruption, you can wish and hope - or you can plan and organise.  We hope to help you with your planning.

There is a guest speaker that we are not quite able to announce - watch this space.

Full details and booking arrangements are here.