The ‘State’ of Procurement: Giving SME’s a voice…it’s just good business

I recently purchased my grandson his first tricycle. Of course, despite the shiny model on display at the store, ours came in individually sealed 1000+ pieces of impenetrable plastic. Imagine my frustration struggling to pry the last piece loose only to realize assembly required an engineering degree. And you guessed it, there was a piece missing; an integral piece. After my wife did her best to calm down her two infants, one of them mustered the civility to call the company. Having dealt with this sort of thing before I fully expected my patience, comity and graciousness to be tested. To my surprise...

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Reimagining Procurement and “Rewriting the Public Procurement Playbook”

It is really exciting that Procurement Week 2017 will have “Rewriting the Public Procurement Playbook” as one of its three main themes and I look forward to the discussions around this major issue. Achieving a better procurement system that is able to catalyse public sector reform and boost its ability to exploit technological developments to the benefit of citizens would be a transformative contribution towards social improvement. It would also serve to raise the profile of procurement as one of...

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The ‘State’ of Procurement: Rewriting the Public Procurement Playbook following Brexit

They think it’s all over. Well, it’s only just begun! With apologies to history (1966 and all that) the United Kingdom’s eventual exit from membership of the EU offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to introduce greater efficiency into public sector procurement and by doing so to remove the unnecessary ideological baggage that accompanies this area. In a brief article one...

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Rewriting the Public Procurement Playbook

The well documented and seemingly incessant budgetary pressure squeezing the UK public sector tends to be top of every public sector manager’s priority list. Most organisations recognise that effectively managed procurement can be key to delivering savings and greater value. However, if you talk to anybody working in UK public sector procurement some other common themes and challenges will very quickly emerge. Most public sector organisations are experiencing a loss of experienced procurement staff...

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The State of Procurement: Overregulation versus reaching the procurement aims

Reaching procurement aims should be the most important thing for: contracting authorities, legislators and public officers. Failure to reach the aims of procurement leads directly to procurement crisis. The law should play the ancillary role for these aims. Unfortunatly what has been happening so far to legal regulation leads to oposite results. The overregulation of law can...

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The ‘State’ of Procurement: Imperialistic by Nature?

Originally, the public procurement regime was intended to include public demand in the internal market by demanding transparency in procedures and awards to avoid discrimination on the grounds of nationality; subsequently, equal treatment was presented as the obvious principle at the heart of the procurement directives. Public procurement law has been perceived as a highly technical, complex and strictly separate discipline, living its own life as developed and delimitated by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). However, ...

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Rewriting the Public Procurement Playbook: wishful thinking?

Professor Steven Schooner of George Washington University asked a key question in 2011: “what does your government hope to achieve through its government procurement law?” He described nine common objectives in the context of the US procurement system: Competition; Integrity; Transparency; Efficiency; Customer satisfaction; Best value; Wealth distribution; Risk avoidance; and Uniformity. Most also feature in international norms in public procurement – including...

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Corporate Social Responsibility in the context of public procurement

Over last decade public procurement experienced wide spread modernisation across the globe, both including local and international levels. With the revamp of UN Model law on Public Procurement, introduction of new Public Procurement Directives (Europe) as well as introduction of several policy developments (Sustainable Public Procurement Program, UN Principles on Business and Human Rights) public procurement understanding has changed. It is not anymore understood as a process of solely buying for a cheapest price but something beyond that. Procurement...

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There is a Cost to Buying Cheap...

I started work in 1978 and my first job was to process orders. To get value for money, the process was to get three quotes and the lowest won – a very boring introduction to procurement and I would have left if I were not so lazy in my teenage years. Things did not improve in the 1980s. I was working in the NHS and the Government introduced Compulsory Competitive Tendering to bring “private sector efficiency” into catering, portering and cleaning services. Actually, it was just a way of buying cheap and contractors making a quick profit by...

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The State of Procurement in the World Bank

In July 2016, the World Bank adopted a new procurement framework for projects that are funded by the Bank. This new framework evidenced a sea change from the manner in which the Bank has traditionally regulated procurement that relies on Bank funds. The changes to the Bank’s procurement framework are far reaching and will have several implications for developing countries that are recipients of Bank funds. To clarify, Bank procurement in this context, refers to the procurement for infrastructure and other goods and services (i.e. project procurement) that are funded through loans and grants by the Bank in developing countries. It does not refer to...

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Rewriting the Public Procurement Playbook

The 2014 EU public procurement reform has very much changed the legal framework for public sector purchasers. Now the rules have been transposed in a number of Member States and the laggards are expected to fall in line in the next few months.Among the number of significant novelties impacting or about to impact the procurement profession across Europe two will be retained here: The widening of the scope for the use of flexible procedures, and...

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How will Brexit change the public procurement system in the UK?

Although one should refrain from very detailed predictions about the future – especially when it is unclear what the outcome of Brexit will be – there are a few ideas which may help us glimpse some expected changes. 1. Not much will change...for now In the coming months and years nothing will change. Certainly until the actual departure of the UK, no changes are expected to the legal framework. Having said that, it is possible...

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Corruption and Collusion in Public Procurement: Tools for Investigation and Enforcement

Any county, government or an international organization faces the challenge of corruption in procurement. We naively believe that corruption and collusion represent the problem only for developing countries; whilst the continuous discovery of corrupt and fraudulent practices of the biggest corporations from the Western countries show in practice the difference in perception and reality. Even in the European Union corruption is still present and significant. According to the recent study of the European Parliament, corruption costs the European Union as much as €990 billion per year, representing almost one third of the value of the intra-EU exports per year. What is commonly understood is...

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Public procurement is the sleeping giant of EU innovation policy

I heard these words at a conference in Brussels in January 2016, spoken by Professor Kevin Morgan, Professor of Governance and Development at Cardiff University, and promptly collared him at lunch to talk further. The reason was that I had been inspired by David Connell’s 2014 paper, “Creating Markets for Things That Don’t Exist” (Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge). This paper is a clarion call to government to unleash innovation capabilities ...

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Socio-economic impact of public procurement reforms

This note explores socio-economic impacts from procurement reforms by highlighting examples from various countries. It aims to illustrate the increasing attention paid to the use of public procurement to achieve socio-economic outcomes, from the large size of the public procurement market, which in some countries constitutes as much as 40% of the GDP. Many reasons exist as to why the public sector may wish to derive socio-economic impacts from procurement reforms. These include: ...

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Rewriting the EU Procurement Procedures: When Two Becomes One?

In procurement week 2016, Caroline Nicholas of United Nations Office of Legal Affairs raised an important issue that I have been deliberating on since my LLM lecture on the procurement procedures. During her presentation, Ms Nicholas queried the need to have so many ‘negotiated’ procedures in one procurement regime, ‘why not keep it simple’? This article will attempt to present an argument on the simplification of the competitive procedure with negotiations and the competitive dialogue as special procedures found in Directive 2014/24...

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Why buyers need to learn to adopt selling skills...

Fortunately for me, when I was thrown headlong into being a trainee buyer in the mid-80s the baptism of fire in meeting sales reps on a weekly basis and having to deal with stakeholders from all functions within a turnkey global engineering business, provided a very solid grounding in the ability to communicate with people at all levels and just as importantly to listen. Throughout my career ...

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How you can boost your bottom line in a difficult economy by re-engineering your procurement function?

It is already past midnight and procurement is no longer the Cinderella slaving away in the grimy kitchen. Just as surely as the Fairy Godmother recognized Cinderella's true potential. Organisations around the globe are increasingly recognising the strategic role played by the procurement function. Although it has been considered a necessary but, hardly glamorous process for so long, procurement is increasingly seen as pivotal to business success. According to Hal Sirkin, Senior Partner and Managing Director at The Boston Consulting Group, procurement will assume even greater strategic significance for multinational firms in the future. For those businesses ...

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