Public Spend Forum Europe – Public Procurement Highlights from This Week

Public Spend Forum is dedicated to public sector procurement, and aims to be a global community and knowledge network for improving public procurement and the public sector market. In Europe alone, we are talking about well over a trillion Euros of money from taxpayers and citizens being spent by governments and public sector bodies. Worth doing well, you might consider.

Part of the PSF site is dedicated to Europe-related issues, and that is where you will find our articles and news stories from this week. It will require a one-off, quick registration to view them. Please join us – follow the links in the summaries below.

We looked at the next issue discussed in the excellent National Audit Office Commercial and Contract Management guidance. This one is “manage your own obligations” and looks at why and how the buying organisation needs to do what it says it will in the contract. Sounds obvious, yes, but it is amazing how often it doesn’t happen, because of lack of skills on the buy side, lack of contract management resource, or sheer incompetence. And of course it goes without saying that it's pretty difficult to hold the supplier to account for their performance if you’re not doing what you said you would…

We featured an interesting article here from Thomas Voland and Kristin Vorbeck of top law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP on the also excellent Lexology legal news and content website.  Firefighters and Their Fair Trade Trousers: Human Rights in Public Procurement was perhaps not quite as exciting as that title might have made you expect, but it’s a good review of the use of ESL (environmental, social and labour) criteria in supplier selection decisions, with a particular focus on Germany.

I also got into an argument on the PSF site with Joseph Sandor – who is a very eminent professor -  about negotiation and BATNA. He is not convinced BATNA is a useful concept. I disagree. He believes that negotiation is very much about collaboration, sharing and so on, whereas I have a slightly more cynical view of many business negotiations! Well, my point is that his approach is fine in certain cases, and certain cases only, and even then, why wouldn’t you want to have a good alternative (BATNA) up your sleeve if the supplier won’t play fair?

Here is a good issue for Andrew Forzani, new Chief Commercial Officer at the Ministry of Defence, to get stuck into. It is a nice £600 million contract for communications satellite provision and service, awarded under a single-source, non-competitive process to Airbus. Should MOD still be giving so much business to suppliers without competition? And where there really isn’t any other option, how do you then make sure the taxpayer doesn’t get ripped off? Good luck with those very tricky issues, Andrew!

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