Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Whistleblowing for procurement

I think we all recognise the benefits that whistleblowing can bring. We've seen it lead to the
exposure of NHS failures, police manipulation of figures, and exposure of public sector contract failures. If I am correct, whistle-blowing polices are being presented as one of the key strategies in the fight against fraud, bribery and corruption, but they are also largely inward focusing and fall short of boundary spanning buyer/seller issues.http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/node/262

But when serious questions are, in parallel, being asked about the role major contractors to the public sector is it time to come up with something more substantial?

I would like to see contractual obligations which put in place a mechanism for contractors to provide a 'whistle-blower' line to the buyer's head of risk management for any contractor staff to whistle-blow on contract abuse or procurement fraud and corruption.

Of course such an approach may be cumbersome on a contract by contract basis and may only be justified for the biggest contracts. However, many are familiar with the work of Crimestoppers, a charity which enables anonymous reporting of crime. Perhaps what we need is a Crimestoppers type service for procurement, it could be jointly funded by the CBI and the Government and be a national service.

Having said that, we do have Action Fraud but when I look at the procurement fraud section I struggle to see how it ties in with the types of procurement fraud we are most familiar with. Let's be honest, if you were aware of a fraud would you think of Action Fraud? I doubt it.

No, I think we need to recognise fraud is unlikely to pass us by, improve Action Fraud to make it more procurement specific, and, embed in contracts an obligation for contractors to raise awareness of procurement fraud and widely raise awareness of that procurement fraud should be reported and how.

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