Down the Procurement Pub with Schools, HS2, Economies of Scale and Halsey

So this week it has been recovery from Reading Festival and a trip to Durham to visit Mother so little in the way of procurement socialising to write about. But I did take a trip to my cousin’s pub in Sherburn Village – the Lambton Arms – and tried a new addition to their range.

Sonnet 43 Brew House is a new(ish) micro-brewery near Durham, and their bottled Impressment American style IPA was excellent. I thought it was less citric than it sounded on the label, and better for that – it seemed to me half-way between the now common new wave IPAs with their grapefruit and lemon flavours and a more traditional English strong bitter. Very good indeed anyway.

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Measurement and incentivisation are central to so much of life these days, and we saw a new angle on how it can go wrong this week with the news that top schools like St Olave’s in Kent are kicking kids out after one year of A levels if they don’t get top grades, because they are worried those pupils’ results will depress the school's place in the league table. The law of unintended consequences strikes again, and the measurement of school performance is flawed if this appalling practice is the result. We may have more on this next week but it is disgraceful behaviour by the schools – if the kids are trying hard and not being disruptive then of course they should not be kicked out.

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A recent article we wrote on economies of scale drew some interesting comments, and now Dr Michael Lamoureux has stepped into the argument, with a very good article that explains some of the basic maths and realities of the whole economy of scale concept. You can read it at his excellent Sourcing Innovation website.  (The good doctor, also known as “the second cleverest person in the procurement universe”, also writes for Spend Matters US).

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The process to appoint “Construction Partners” for High Speed 2’s London Euston and Old Oak Common stations has been formally launched by HS2 Ltd. It expects to issue invitations to tender to shortlisted bidders by the end of the year and award the contracts in autumn 2018. So who could possibly win out of the huge field of dynamic firms (he said sarcastically)? This really is an oligopoly. We predict Skanska, Balfour Beatty, Bouygues, probably with some consortium partners. Maybe not Carillion following their very public recent financial problems. There really isn’t much choice in this market, making it very hard to know if the public sector achieves good value.

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Sometime soon we will have our selection of the best new bands from Reading Festival but it is not all unknowns or indeed all “rock” at Reading these days. There is a major R  B / Grime / Rap element as well as dance and the more sophisticated end of “pop”. We’re not quite sure where you would put Halsey, but she is a star and was excellent. There are lots of good Reading videos on the BBC website (or via YouTube ) now if you want a browse.

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