Some public authorities use the negotiated or competitive dialogue procedures for awarding contracts, when in fact the regulations are actually quite strict on which procedure they should choose and authorities should be using the Open or Restricted procedure in most circumstances.
The Audit Commission has today published the results of its annual survey of fraud against English councils and related bodies (Protecting the Public Purse 2011). The 2010/11 report shows that:
- fraud directed against public sector organisations costs taxpayers £21.2 billion/year
- fraud against councils costs more than £2 billion/year
- councils detected more than £185 million worth of fraud (<10% of the total), involving 121,000 cases
- the total value detected increased by 37 per cent compared against 2009/10, with the number of cases detected also rising
BBC Scotland is broadcasting a documentary tonight (20th September) titled ‘Scotland’s Property Scandal’ on BBC1 Scotland (Sky Channel 971) after the news at 22:35. It will also be available on the BBC iPlayer for those of you who don’t have access to BBC Scotland.
The programme investigates the evidence of possible fraud, wrong-doing and incompetence in the Property Conservation Department at Edinburgh City Council. This department is responsible for overseeing the statutory notice system, that seems unique to Edinburgh, where private buildings with multiple owners (e.g. tenements or blocks of flats), can be issued with a notice by the Council stating that the building is going to be repaired and that the cost will be passed to the owners. These repairs are commonly to roofs, or external masonry not only to make sure that they are wind and water tight, but to make sure that there is no danger to passing pedestrians from falling slates or blocks of stone.
A colleague of mine recently sent me an article about authorities who have been permitted to proceed with contracts after being challenged by a supplier. Now, if you remember one of my more recent posts, A Slap on The Wrist for Authorities I discussed (in short) how more authorities are being pulled up for their actions when awarding contracts unfairly and what you could do as a supplier, I believe my exact words were, “just by making a formal complaint you can put a hiatus on the contract award”. Imagine my surprise when I read the article about three cases where the court lifted the suspension and allowed the contract to continue. Apparently the new Remedies Directive has a tiny little loophole, the same law that allows suppliers to put the brakes on a contract award allows authorities to continue the contract until something more concrete is settled in court. Now this won’t be the case for every authority, they must have to merit the circumstances, but it might put some suppliers off the idea of challenging authorities in court. The courts have suggested awarding damages may be the best way to solve the issue when dealing with brazen suppliers willing to challenge the system. The first case was for cleaning services in a college, the college fought that they needed the cleaning services to continue classes, therefore the college was permitted to carry on with the chosen supplier until an agreement was reached in court (i.e. damages). The second case was for an NHS trust which obviously needed to continue business as usual as they are dealing with people’s health, so again the NHS trust were permitted to use the chosen supplier. The third case was regarding landmine clearance in Cambodia…… need I say more?
So what does this mean for suppliers? Will any challenged authority be quoting these cases in court? If the courts feel that damages will be the best path to take when these cases arise, is this really good value for public money? I feel this loophole goes against the power the authorities were kindly given. It goes back to the same old idealism, be transparent and do it right in the first place. If any of our readers are running into trouble with Authorities, let us hear your story!
As part of a successful year Tenders Direct are offering you £100 of John Lewis vouchers for everyone you recommend to the service!
What does £100 get you in John Lewis?
Now get out your little black book, dig out those old Business Cards, glance through Twitter and help out an old friend you know would benefit! Visit the Tenders Direct website for more information and Terms and Conditions.
The launch of specifications for sustainable procurement and collaborative working offers a powerful strategic weapon for purchasers and suppliers
The launch of specifications for sustainable procurement and collaborative working offers a powerful tool for suppliers and purchasers. Lord Jones, former director-general of the CBI, believes they should form part of any organisation’s strategic weaponry. UK businesses operate in a highly competitive global environment where agility, efficiency and innovation are the watchwords of success and standardisation weaponry.
Suppliers that comply with standards often have a competitive advantage as buyers will often use compliance to choose between comparable suppliers. Standardisation also promotes interoperability along the supply chain and provides the competitive edge that is necessary for effective worldwide trading.
BS 8903:2010 launched in Summer 2010 set out the principles and framework for sustainable procurement and also provides practical advice on the implementation of the framework practices. It has been developed by participants drawn from many sources including the private sector, pressure groups and the public sector.
BS 1100-1:2010, published October 2010, was developed with input from many industries and its longer term objective is to move to an ISO standard. It provides a strategic framework to improve collaborative relationships and explores partner selection, working together, value creation and relationship maturity.
With an increasing emphasis from buyers on this area, it is the wise supplier that will educate themselves on these standards to give themselves the competitive edge, that Lord Digby refers to.