Down the Procurement Pub with HS2, TfL, Oxygen and Hurray for the Riff Raff

I was invited by my good friend Carson Reid to a wine tasting evening last night at which I proved that I cannot tell the difference between Malbec and Shiraz. Thanks to Tandem for the invite; they do financial management and seem like good people. I also discovered I am better at tasting wine (I got the New Zealand Riesling) than at identifying smells from just a liquid.  Me - “is it chocolate”?  No, it’s banana.  “Is it white spirits”? No, it’s pineapple. I think we can say without fear of contradiction I’m never going be a great wine maker or parfumier …

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It was only a few weeks ago we wrote here in detail about the conflict of interest issue around the latest HS2 rail contract award to CH2M. That firm’s staff are heavily involved in the programme, on the buy-side, which led unsuccessful bidders for the next development phase of work to threaten legal challenge. Now Construction News claims that “the prime minister’s office has weighed into the procurement saga”. There is a lot riding on this – not just the contract award itself, but the reputation of the HS2 procurement team, which would be severely damaged if it is found that anything untoward did happen here. We still doubt it will come to anything, but watch this space …

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Not on the same scale as the Tradeshift / IBX tie-up, but we missed this last month - Oxygen Finance acquired Santago. Oxygen’s core business is in implementing and running early payment, supply chain finance type programmes in UK local authorities. Satago provides cloud-based technology that integrates with an SMEs existing accounting software, giving it the same level of credit control as larger businesses. “Oxygen’s early payment solutions for large buyers, which enables them to pay suppliers ahead of contracted terms, is the perfect partner for Satago’s proven business model of giving SME suppliers the tools in their native accounting applications to improve receivables management”.

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Congratulations to David Wylie, ex Centrica Group Procurement Director, who has now taken over as Chief Procurement Officer at Transport for London. He takes over from the previous interim director, Steve Jackson, who himself replaced the long-serving Andrew Quincey – he is now at government department Defra as Commercial Director, by the way.  The TfL role now includes both revenue and capital procurement, we understand, which must make it one of the largest, most challenging, highest profile and most important CPO roles in the UK public sector. Good luck David!

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Last week saw three very strong albums released - from Laura Marling (see a track here we featured recently), the Shins and Hurray for the Riff Raff.  That band is led by Alynda Segarra, who on this album combines her previous Americana style with more rock and Latin influences – she has a Puerto Rican heritage herself - and it is excellent.

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