Saturday, 2 March 2013

Yes, to me, lowest price wins

With so much attention on UK public procurement there is perhaps some comfort that there are questions also being asked in the USA about public procurement. And in answer to those questions we hear that a culture of 'lowest price wins', lack of skills and risk aversion prevails. The blame is clearly laid at the door of procurement professionals with a perception that they just are not up to the mark.

Let's forget about arguing whether or not the perception is justified because it appears to be a fairly prevalent perception on both sides of the Atlantic.

While the perception may be completely inaccurate, why would those in the private sector, who have that perception, ever want to employ someone from the public sector? That is particularly an issue in the UK where it was hoped that the private sector would pick up some of the many UK public sector staff shed as a result of the austerity strategy.

Those who hold the belief increasingly appear be highly respected business leaders and influential with politicians. They are also be reinforcing others opinions, however unfounded, that public sector procurement wastes money as opposed to having a strategic role in cost reduction.

Sadly, while we hear plenty of reference to Purchasing Managers' Indices we have no such measure of public perception of procurement as adding value or indeed that lowest price does not prevail.

Those of us who consider procurement to be our profession need to start redressing the balance because the next thing may well be that resourcing the procurement function may be at lowest price too.

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