President Trump and First Thoughts on Procurement Implications

Hail the Trump era! We’ve always been huge fans of Sir Donald, so we’re delighted by the result of the election, which recognises his huge talents and  … No, it won’t work. However much I crawl, I don’t suppose I’ll get one of those great jobs the guys in the West Wing TV show had – you know, where you get to rush around all day in the White House, saying clever things to pretty girls.

So, on a serious note, here are some initial thoughts on what procurement folk should start thinking about in terms of the potential effects and outcomes from the amazing result:

  1. Trade agreements – this probably spells the end of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US. After three years of negotiation it was floundering already with opposition in Europe as well, and even Hilary Clinton was sounding less sure about it. The only way Trump will endorse it, is if it's so pro-US that it would be ridiculous for any other country to sign. We have covered this regularly – here is one article from July. So procurement may have to deal with a world of more tariff barriers and the like, which leads on to …
  1. Protectionism – more generally, Trump has talked about bringing jobs home to the US, stopping firms offshoring or outsourcing work to other countries. Frankly, it all sounds pretty unachievable but he will have to do something even if it is economic mumbo-jumbo. And of course it is also bad news for the procurement profession. If the general mood is less in favour of open trade, buying on the basis of best value and so on, that is not positive for those of us who work in that space.
  1. Public procurement in the US is likely to become more focused on supporting local firms we suspect, with maybe more emphasis on veterans’ programmes as well? And in the construction sector, there will be lots of contracting activity of course around the Mexican Wall. (Ironic that we were in Berlin this week …)
  1. Labour – let’s stay off the issue of women in the workplace, particularly the issues if you are in Presidents Trump’s workplace, but more seriously, how many foreigners, Mexicans or Muslims work in procurement roles in the US and might find they are not wanted any longer in the country?
  1. Big data , big failure. The pollsters had more data than ever before and got it horribly wrong. We were also told that the Democrats' amazing data systems, tracking, targeting of voters and so on were miles ahead of Trump’s ramshackle and judgement-based campaign. But look who won. We need to look at whether we are getting carried away by big data and remember that eternal truth – GIGO (garbage in garbage out). And if big data means simply MORE GIGO, then we have a problem.

We have been desperately seeking some positives in this, and a couple do come to mind that we will come back to those in another article soon. But just like the Brexit vote, the educated metropolitan liberal elite have been taught a lesson by an “outsider” almost non-political campaign. That should tell us and our rulers something about what needs to be done to address this huge gulf between politicians and many in the electorate. Whether Trump is the man to achieve any of the tricky changes that arguably are needed, we will have to wait and see. At the moment, frankly, we’re terrified.

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