Perhaps operational procurement is forgotten and the cry is that the processes must be wrong - if the processes are wrong, fix them, don't avoid them. Broken processes and worse, unadhered to processes have no place in either efficiency, value for money or competitiveness. They also create the environment for procurement fraud, bribery and corruption.
So let's think about some of the basics which Larne Borough Council, like some many, have got wrong and no doubt will be echoed elsewhere shortly:
- If you enter into an agreement - get it signed asap;
- If you have awarded a franchise, particularly in times when firms are going bust, invoice and get payments regularly;
- If you are using corporate credit cards or pCards make sure you manage them responsibly;
- Understand what good processes are, adapt appropriately and adopt them, then consistency stick to them.
In this age of 'transparency' it would be nice to see the full report on Larne Borough Council which is said to also express concerns on the award of contracts.
Those unaware of the Northern Ireland local government may not realise that there is a restructuring of councils taking place, while there are currently 26 councils, there will soon only be 11. The restructuring provides a wonderful opportunity for procurement transformation, not only strategically but in terms of processes - it provides an opportunity for NI to become an exemplar. But if you want to get the processes right, it makes sense to understand the lessons from past failures - that can't happen when reports for investigations remain hidden. Let's hope that the Larne 'hidden' report is the last we hear of inferior local government procurement performance - what are the odds?