A nightmare vision for public procurement – Dr Gordy again

We mentioned Dr Murray last week and his blog. Going back a couple of weeks, he wrote a very thought provoking and clever post - I was well through it before I "got it" I must admit!

It's a "nightmare" or potential vision of a future, in a few years time, when challenging public procurement decisions has become a proper industry, with "no win no fee" merchants encouraging unsuccessful bidders to look for pay-offs from public bodies.

It was brought on (in the nightmare) by factors such as the loss of procurement experience from the public sector (happening now as we speak), as well as more onerous EU regulations and punishments. The "Public Procurement Litigation Agency" has to be set up to handle all the complaints...

You will smile when you read it, but, as with all the best satire, there is a grain of truth - or potential truth - behind it. I do some work for bidders, either during tendering processes or afterwards (and I've given "expert witness" type advice a couple of times when thngs have got nasty). I don't tend to write about it here, for obvious reaosns, but you might be surprised how many public procurement competitions and / or awards are, in my opinion, wide open to challenge.

Most don't result in a challenge - mainly because suppliers don't like to be seen as bad losers or go through the hassle. But that could change, particularly as there is less work to go around, and suppliers may feel they have less to lose if they challenge more readily.

Issues I've seen from cost assessments that don't actually focus on likely real cost, or sue unsuitable price scoring metholdolgies, and therefore arguably do not reflect the "most economically advantageous" criterion; to marking that doesn't relate to what the scoring guidance actually says: to the blatant "fiddle" - a supplier who wins on price and qualitative factors but then doesn't get the contract because "you weren't very good at interview" (that's an interview not mentioned in the evaluation documentation).

Yes, I have actually seen that happen, and the supplier didn't challenge, mainly because they just weren't very experienced at bidding in the public sector.

I have no doubt that I could make a decent living out of helping firms challenge, perhaps in Dr Gordy's "no win no fee" manner - not something I would want to do however, for various reasons. But there is a fair chance his nightmare might turn out to be vision rather than fantasy, at least to some extent!

First Voice

  1. Dr Gordy:

    Thanks Pete, glad you enjoyed it. Missed it in your tweets though?

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