Thursday, 22 May 2014

Kiss and tell procurement codes

There was a lot of coverage in Wednesday's press on Ipswich Borough Council's new Code of Conduct, for example, in The Independent and The Times. The Council's new Code, we are led to believe states:
Employees must declare any close personal relationship with another employee of the council where the relationship could cause, or be perceived to cause a conflict of interest, for example, where there's a risk of the requirement for the separation of duties in connection of the with the award of contracts or funding, or a risk of conflicts arising in the employment relationship between such employees. In such instances there may be a need to consider alternative employment for one of the employees concerned. 
Long and short-term relationships between members of staff, with councillors or with outside contractors and suppliers, must be declared.
I have searched high and low on the internet to see an actual copy of the Code but have been unable to access it, so I will have to take the various reports at face value.

Anyway, while the popular press are picking up on the legality of the need to declare staff relationships, we need to reflect on the relationships between members of council staff and suppliers.

Given the rise of internet dating, for example, and, I am told, the number of 'one night stands' what would constitute a relationship which has to be declared? Would some even recognise a 'relationship'? What about someone who wasn't actually told the truth about the name and role - do they now have to keep a log book and check ID? What about if you were jilted? Will the next iteration be a need to declare connections through membership of a social network?

Without doubt I see the value of declaring potential or perceived conflicts of interest in procurement but I think to make a Code work it has to be pragmatic. If the Code isn't pragmatic breaches will take place and gradually it will lose its teeth.

I'd be interested to hear if any readers have experience of 'kiss and tell' procurement Codes and how they were implemented? I'd also be interested in learning more on Ipswich experience of policing the Code?

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