Monday, 1 April 2013
EU, Brazil & Russia public procurement treaty: A folly
The tripartite agreement has gained little attention in either the mainstream or procurement press. Negotiations were personally led by EU President, Herman van Rumpuy. The 'Rumpuy van', as it have become known, was signed this time last year. Initially viewed as an innovative response to the global financial crisis through easing access to Brazilian and Russian public procurement contracts, it now seems to be riddled with flaws and likely to backfire. UK Procurement Policy wonks failed to realise that UK public procurement managers will now be required, under law, to accept bids in the native languages of both Russia and Brazil. The associated costs of translation and delays in procurement processes now look crazy. The very thought of reading Cyrillic is beyond me, let alone the need respond to points of clarification and debriefing in the native tongues.
Portugal have long standing treaties with Brazil and will face least disruption, but even Portuguese is not the easiest language to master for those of us who have been able to previously require bids to be submitted in English. At least the Russians have taken the steps to understand UK procurement through the work of the Transeuropean Centre for Commerce and Finance. CIPS on the other had haven't even briefed their members on the implications and there appears to be no guidance on the Cabinet Office website. In the absence of more explicit guidance the most reliable source is the EU interpretative note and associated training video. Alternatively you can read the Law Society's 'Idiots Guide' for CPOs.
To me the whole thing is destined to fail and looks remarkably foolish, but then it is that time of year.
P.S. No need to panic - this was an April Fool.