Tuesday, 31 January 2012

On bankers' bonuses, MP expenses and GPS.

Few of us will have missed the furore over Hester’s bonus. He is well paid and recognised by some as doing a good job.  Some of the outrage seems to be driven by the morality of rewarding a banker while SMEs struggle to gain banks favour and access credit.  Nevertheless he decided to forgo his bonus.  There appeared to have been some stirring of his moral compass– his GPS.

Some of the pressure on Hester came from politicians.  To some politicians it was immoral to accept such a bonus while many are suffering as a result of the global financial crisis.  It was also viewed as particularly immoral since RBS is one of the banks indebted to the government for its survival. To some politicians it appeared

Monday, 30 January 2012

Policing pitfalls of 'I see, I want, you buy ASAP'

I’ve decided to revisit the NAO report ‘Mobile Technology in Policing’. Previously I focused on the need for robust challenge and to avoid being bullied into bad procurements in pursuit of political expediency. Arresting as that discussion was, the report provides further lessons on how procurement and programme management effectiveness could be improved; let’s look at just three.

There were three objectives in the procuring the required Blackberry’s, etc.:

1.    Increase police officer visibility to the public;
2.    Reduce unnecessary bureaucracy; and
3.    Increase efficiency and effectiveness of the police service.

Had the objectives been uppermost in the minds of those leading the procurement there would have been a trail of evidence demonstrating the appraisal of alternative ways of achievement. The NAO couldn’t find that evidence.  Instead

Friday, 27 January 2012

It takes two to tango but who leads?

The NAO have just published a report exploring the rationale behind equipping England’s 43 police forces with Blackberry’s and other mobile technology.  

Referring to the report, Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said:
"The roll-out of mobile technology to police forces was achieved against a tight timescale and at reasonable cost. Too little consideration was given, however, to the need for the devices or how they would be used. In the majority of forces, the benefits have not so far extended beyond simply allowing officers to spend more time out of the station.
"There is still the opportunity to achieve value for money, though, if more forces use the technology to improve the efficiency of their processes and make savings in their back-office activities."
I may revisit the report at a later date and explore some of the detail, but one finding immediately triggered a train of thought. The report concluded that the introduction of mobile technology by the then Government was a policy decision simply to procure and deploy devices. 
We’ve seen similar ‘mandates’ before, remember the NHS IT system when Tony Blair said ‘how fast can you get it?’ 

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Obama's State of the Union message to procurement

It’s not often I take the time to look for procurement messages in a US Presidential address, but Obama’s State of the Union address has some interesting messages for the procurement world.

Obama views the economy has been weakened as a result of outsourcing!  Does he mean

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Who identifies when only transnational legislation will do?

When inviting bids it's normal (I hope) that buyers carry out a risk assessment, identify who is best placed to manage those risks and stipulate the insurance cover which the successful provider will have to put in place during delivery of the contract.

The insurance cover aims to protect the buyer and others who may suffer during the supplier's delivery of the contract.  On one hand the buyer is being protected through the insurance in the event of supplier failing to deliver or causing damage.  On the other hand

Friday, 20 January 2012

Procuring legal services the CPS way

I've been discussing various aspects of upsetting the legal profession over the last few days.  Now I learn that the Crown Prosecution Service have just completed a procurement for advocates, in fact thousands of advocates.  I find this fascinating, not just because my 'to do list' includes procurement of legal services, but also if there is any procurement you don't want to get wrong it must surely be that of buying legal services.  Equally

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Reducing prison inmate numbers and cleaning up crime (Part II)

On Monday I discussed the outsourcing of the prison services .  Now I've learnt that there has been a new entrant into the bidding. The Prison Service have now entered the game as Mitie's 'preferred partner'.  Mitie don't appear to have any experience of running a prison but now they've an obvious partner - the Prison Service.

I posed questions on the supplier appraisal approach but those questions have now been added to.

  • How can a 'preferred partner' be added to one of those shortlisted after you've drawn up the shortlist?  
  • What happens if the new partnership is successful in winning all nine contracts and an objection is raised on the robustness of the process?  
  • Did the other bidders have an option of partnering with the Prison Service?  
  • How and when did this partnership emerge?
  • Are there any precedents?

Background reading
Lea, R., and Ford, R. 'Prison Service makes late bid to run private jails', The Times, 19 January, p.33.

To buy or not to buy? Caveat emptor!

A few days ago I wrote a very tongue in cheek blog: Minister admits Public Procurement Litigation Agency overspend.  While much of that blog was inspired by the media attention given to the overspend on settling NHS claims compensation, I could perceive a threat of a new business opportunity exploiting poor public procurement practice.

Today I was startled to find a new twist  in the NHS story as it was revealed

Monday, 16 January 2012

Reducing prison inmate numbers and cleaning up crime

At a simplistic level there are some obvious ways of reducing the prison population, including:
  1. Turning a blind eye to crime,
  2. Reducing the number of custodial sentences,
  3. Reducing reoffending, and
  4. Making it easier for the prison population to escape.
It is with that in mind I was interested to learn that the Justice Secretary is outsourcing £2bn of prison service management.  Will that lead to a reduction in reoffending or an increase in escapes?

The short-listed bidders include some firms who lack any experience

Flaws in BBC News story - Knowing your PQQs

I was surpised to see BBC Northern Ireland present a flawed argument against public procurement today.  In a nutshell the PQQs, which I agree are frequently inappropiate and cumbersum, are being blamed for:
  1. The loss of construction industry jobs, and
  2. Adding to construction industry costs.
The public sector is spending vast sums of public money - there is no shortage of criticism, including on this blog, of how that money is sometimes badly spent.  However,

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Minister admits Public Procurement Litigation Agency overspend

Today the new Secretary of State responsible for procurement was questioned by the influential Public Administration Committee on why there had been a five fold increase in the costs associated with running the Public Procurement Litigation Agency.  She explained that a new industry had grown up on the back of the The Public Contracts (Amendment) Regulations 2009.  The Regs were introduced to implement the Remedies Directive (2007/66/EC) and according to the SoS have changed the dynamics within the public procurement market.  The Regs were the first justification for the overspend.

The SOS then reminded PAC that a former Cabinet Minister had publicly admitted a bias amongst the public procurement community against UK suppliers.  Independent academic research then revealed

National GO Awards

I'm delighted to have been invited to be a judge for this year's National GO Awards.

I've been involved with the awards in a variety of guises over the years.   When working on the National Programme for Third Sector Commissioning the awards really helped collect and celebrate the success of innovative approaches to procurement which I don't think would have otherwise been brought to light.  Prior to that I recall two of my teams being shortlisted and hoping for the winners podium - I'm sorry to say we were never first but getting that far was an enoromus help in selling procurement internally. 

Now I look forward to learning from the entries.  I hope I don't let the practitioner community down!    

Monday, 9 January 2012

The political procurement blame game

Last week Spendmatters exposed the lack of substance behind some of the procurement claims made by Francis Maude.  I had previously critiqued Maude's 'revolutionary speech'  and have expressed a wish that some sort of test was put in place for robnessness prior to these fanfared announcements which are really only compromising credibility.

Today's font page of theTimes headlines a must read investigation into Whitehall waste - estimated to amount to £31bn!  Needles to say procurement does not escape the spotlight, so

Saturday, 7 January 2012

dring, dring, 'Hi Di, it's E ..., really great to hear from you .. - let's discuss negotiation'.

On Thursday I was in a key meeting with a new supplier trying to protect buyer interests.  I was absolutely convinced I had turned off my phone, but low and behold my phone went off. I quickly glanced at who the caller was and texted an apology to say I'd get back within the hour.  In those brief few seconds though I felt

Sunday, 1 January 2012

I hope you and yours have a very happy and successful 2012

Thanks for following the blog.  I wish you and yours a very happy and successful 2012,