Here's our Friday rundown of highlights from our site dedicated to exciting and fascinating matters connected with European public sector procurement - Public Spend Matters Europe. As usual, before you think about switching off, it's worth remembering that around Europe, we are talking about well over a trillion Euros of money from taxpayers and citizens being spent by government and public sector bodies of some sort. Worth doing well, you might consider.
If you find anything interesting please do click through to the full article:
We’ve been following the series of Public Procurement Podcasts put together by Dr Pedro Telles of Swansea University for the past few months now. In the series, he interviews various academics and others who have an interesting viewpoint on aspects of public sector procurement. Here he speaks to Sarah Schoenmaekers of Maastricht University. The discussion is about Article 57 of the EU procurement directives, now translated into national regulations in a number of European countries (with more to come this year). “If you look at public procurement budgets, then a recent study of PricewaterhouseCoopers has indicated that 13% of the overall project budget is actually money that is paid because of corruption”, she says.
The General Secretary of the Association of Translation Companies (ATC), Geoffrey Bowden, recently told Public Sector Executive magazine that "there is now a 'critical shortage’ of skilled language professionals willing to work in the public sector." It's a crisis because 1) translators don't want to work in UK public sector because of budget squeezes, and they can be paid better elsewhere, and 2) using less 'high-quality' translation services through cost cutting will lead to inferior quality output "lack of investment in attracting translators is risking the quality of translation services, and therefore creating further potential costs through things like medical misunderstandings, delays to court proceedings and other errors." Some striking comments from the Association of Translation Companies put the whole 'savings' issue into perspective.
In our recent article in this series on buying professional services in the public sector, we looked at the different but valid reasons why consulting firms and consultants are engaged by public bodies. The three headings discussed were knowledge and specialist skills, intellectual horsepower and capability and implementation and delivery of tasks, projects or programmes. In this article we look at some of the less good reasons why consultants are engaged. We would suggest that any procurement professional who wants to get to grips with this spend category needs to understand these well, much as they should understand the valid responses to the “why engage consultants” question.
A recent article in The Irish Times highlighted the issue of ‘appropriate spending of public funds.’ The spending in this case is connected with the treatment of the hundreds of people who contracted Hepatitis C and other serious illnesses from contaminated blood products, and the organisations that were put in place to support those people. The two organisations received about €6 million in State funding from 2009 to 2013-2014, and now serious questions are being asked about just how wisely that money was spent. The ‘extravagant’ spending pointed out by the auditors covered expenditure such as: overseas trips at €69,738, expense claims of the executive committee at €424,730, and others such as groceries, restaurants, complimentary therapies and legal costs, all arising to over €1.3 million. And yes 'complimentary therapies' does mean 'beauty therapy!'