Thursday, 9 January 2014

Horsemeat scandal: a healthy outcome for procurement

I have discussed the horsemeat scandal  on many, many, many occasions but today's 'I' carries a interesting report of calls for a Food Crime Unit as a response to scandal.

Professor Elliot also advocated that food fraud needed to become an item on company risk registers. His view is that:
Any particular incidents of suspected food fraud that are happening should be reported to the board. What we don't want are chief executives saying "I knew nothing about this". 
The call for a Food Crime Unit is interesting but surely inconsistent with traditional Conservative philosophy of interference with markets. But wouldn't a Crime Unit be responding after crimes had been committed, wouldn't it make much more sense to improve the robustness of food quality assurance and supply chain management? Is it really likely that the current coalition would invest in the setting up of such a Unit?

However, Professor Elliot is right about the need for food fraud to be included on company risk registers, but not just when a fraud is suspected but as a risk which has the potential to materialise in the future, is regularly monitored and reported on.

CEO's need to be reassured that effective risk management systems are in place for all procurements and managed at the appropriate level.

If the risk registers of any of the major food retailers had not identified food fraud as a risk prior to 'Horsegate' then there have to be questions asked about competence and negligence. But if food fraud was not on the risk registers, what else has been missed, for example, what about the health and safety of clothing manufacturers?

But having said that, what about the other procurement story today on the MoD's decision invite bids from only two suppliers for Logistics Commodities Service Transformation, it would be fascinating to the mitigation plans on that risk register particularly in the light of the lessons learnt from the failed GOCO procurement.

One thing that Horesegate has highlighted is that food procurement risk management systems failed. The real questions we need answers to are why it failed and what steps are being taken to correct those failures - if it is a basic as including food fraud on risk registers then shame on the industry and we shouldn't be remotely surprised when Horsegate2 arrives. 

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