Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Procurement due diligence

We have discussed the problem of 'fake experts' before. We have also questioned the value of professional qualifications when non-procurement staff are appointed to CPO positions. Indeed, only yesterday we raised concerns as to whether we can rely on the robust checking of qualifications and experience by headhunters and interim placement organisations. So readers of this blog should recognise the need for healthy scepticism.

You may therefore be astounded that, yet again, professional credibility has raised its head. Unbelievably, we have just learnt that the inquest into the death of singer Amy Winehouse has now had to be set aside and started from scratch again - you've probably guessed what's coming - yes, because the Coroner was not appropriately qualified. The coroner did not match the criteria of either five years as a qualified medical practitioner, or five years experience with the Law Society. To add to the bizarreness of the situation, the unqualified Coroner was appointed by her husband, who has now resigned as a result of not 'thoroughly checking' that his wife met the basic criteria. Those words 'thoroughly checking' straddle the procurement world too.

I will not revisit my earlier blogs. However, I will share some of my experiences of procurement 'thoroughly checking' credentials.

I once completed a supplier evaluation which included the rejection of one supplier. My report went to a meeting of the Board but at that meeting, which I wasn't attending, one of the Directors stepped in and said he had now received additional information which justified over-turning my recommendation and reinstating the supplier on the Shortlist. A subsequent costly challenge, inquiry which ruled against us, and allegations of corruption taught us a clear lesson - make sure you thoroughly check the claimed facts, even if they appear to come from a reputable source!

I have also completed third party Due Diligence on a number of proposed contract awards - surprise, surprise, when thoroughly checked there were flaws, with those included on shortlists who should not have been, and those not included, who should have been.

I have also seen, time and again, taking answers on PQQs at face value, including amazingly the acceptance of cited reference sites without even bothering to check (NB not 'thoroughly') with the referee!

It would be possible for me to also highlight the need for due diligence of the process itself. However, I do not think that is necessary as Peter Smith has provided the useful lessons of the West Coast Rail Franchise which I would encourage you to read.

Is there an aversion to due diligence in procurement? How good is the profession at 'thoroughly checking'.

Sometimes procurement has a lot more in common with unqualified appointments and Coroners than we would have expected!

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