Friday, 24 February 2012

Do your procurement systems provide protection for staff?

A news story this week in Northern Ireland was concerned with procurement fraud.  You can read part of the story through the BBC link but in a nutshell it's cash for MOD contracts, £16.2m fraud, and three guilty on 17 counts of corruption.  Sentencing awaits.

Behind the story, I'm told, were some process weaknesses which I have also noticed elsewhere.  I'm not going to waste your time with all the ins and outs, but the key lessons are:

  1. Review your processes for receipt of bids (quotations and tenders)
  2. Make sure there is a clear separation of duties (procurement staff should not handle the adminstration of receiving bids)
  3. Make sure bids reamain unopened until after the latest time for receipt
  4. Make sure more than one person is present at the opening
  5. Schedule all opened bids
  6. Initial each submission against the price
  7. Only then pass to procurement staff
  8. Procurement check that handover documents.
Obvious enough?  Yes, but I was surpised when I recently suggested the above process  to a public sector organisation that they thought it was OTT. I asked how they would protect their staff against allegations of corruption. I suspect many staff would not relish the prospect of the jail sentence facing those concerned with the MOD contracts.  So, 'do your procurement systems provide protection for staff?'  I hope so.

1 comment:

  1. Gone are the bad old days when it was rumoured that some elected members wrote the prices in after opening to protect inhouse staff.