Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Potentially a perfect love match: Northamptonshire's romance with the waste market

Too often procurement features in the news because it is found wanting. Yet I highlighted last week that the GO Awards for Excellence in Public Procurement demonstrate examples of good practice exist.  So it was great to see  BBC coverage of Northamptonshire County Council's seeking ideas from the market on how to address non-recyclable waste.

Why is this story so newsworthy?   What can we learn from Northamptonshire's approach?
  1. The council are acknowledging that the market may know better than their own technical staff how to solve problems - the market is a source of innovation to be drawn on but that rarely happens.
  2. The approach goes some way to slaying one of the common myths/excuses I frequently hear, namely, you must have a really tight specification which sets out explicitly the 'how and what' bidders have to deliver if you don't do that you will be exposed to challenge. Hopefully, the only challenge to Northamptonshire will be a constructive challenge to the old ways, whereas what I find so often is comfort in 'the old ways'.
  3. The approach also suggests a confidence in managing risk.  This strikes me as a council which is risk aware and seeks to manage risk - the greater risk is not listening to the market.
What we now need to do is learn from the Northamptonshire case study as it develops, warts and all.  Hopefully there will be a researcher who has access to the full story and retells that story with academic rigour. Only then can we really learn.

Nevertheless, I congratulate Northamptonshire and look forward to following the story and hope fortune favours the brave.

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