Dr Gordy – becoming a must-read procurement blogger, damn him….

I have two reasons for cursing Dr Gordon Murray, who we have mentioned before - he's a very experienced procurement practitioner, consultant, academic and writer with a sense of humour dryer than aged Rioja.

1. As a fairly new and excellent procurement blogger, he's competition

2. That's another 10 minutes of my life gone every few days checking out his site.

He's been blogging for a few months now, but since the New Year he seems to have had a burst of energy and the blogs are coming more regularly. Which, joking aside, is good news as they are always interesting and sometimes truly excellent.

He is very public sector focused, but he's not afraid to dip into quite political waters, so there's often material of interest to anyone who follows those issues.

One of his recent posts looked at the short-lists for suppliers to run a number of UK prisons whose management is being outsourced. He rightly questions whether firms whose core business is cleaning, for instance, really have the know-how to do this - and how will they be able to price a sensible bid, he asks?

A very good question, although I'm slightly less cynical than he is about the whole process. For instance, the desire to incentivise providers to reduce re-offending seems wholly admirable. It will need some clever and innovative procurement mechanisms to do that in order to avoid the law of unforeseen consequences coming into play. So I hope the Ministry of Justice is up to the task of achieving that, and I also hope they've picked the brains of DWP who have structured somewhat similar contracts within the Work Programme in terms of incentivising providers to get people into jobs (see yesterday's post on the NAO report on that Programme).

Dr Murray has followed up with a further blog commenting on the more recent announcement that there are also going to be bids from Mitie in partnership with the public sector Prison Service itself! I thought this was a bit strange, and Murray asks some pertinent questions here including:

  • How can a 'preferred partner' be added to one of those shortlisted after you've drawn up the shortlist?
  • What happens if the new partnership is successful in winning all nine contracts and an objection is raised on the robustness of the process?
  • Did the other bidders have an option of partnering with the Prison Service?

I would add something around how the MoJ is going to ensure a level playing field with an "internal" bid in the field.

Do read his posts, but personally I don't have any fundamental problem with the private sector taking over the running of Durham Prison, which (he said, digressing wildly) brings back memories of my childhood, when I lived just out of Durham.

My uncle and aunt ran a student hall of residence in Durham. They bought a mad Doberman Pinscher (dog), partly because of their proximity to the prison, which was just over the road. But the dog would escape and then rush into the Prison when they opened the gate for prisoner visitors or deliveries. My uncle would get regular phone calls.

"Mr France, this is the Governor. Could you come and collect your dog, please".  I was never allowed to go with him for some reason. But in the end, my uncle felt he was getting to know the place a bit too well, and he had to go (the dog that is, not my uncle. Or the Governor).

Perhaps that could be a tender evaluation question. "How will you secure your perimeter against stray dogs?"

First Voice

  1. Dr Gordy:

    Thanks Pete, very kind :)G

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