Readers’ comments on supplier diversity, the Crown Commercial Service and schools procurement

Let’s take a look at some of last week’s comments from our esteemed – nay, loved – readers.

Now, certain people are getting a bit close to personal abuse in terms of certain government procurement executives – so a warning shot, I will edit if I think things are getting too nasty!  But the mysterious Bill Atthetill is also perceptive and funny so we will forgive him or her a certain amount...

He / she commented on the delay in forming the Crown Commercial Service

“Firstly, use of the word ‘Crown’ (replacing the word ‘Government’) is nonsense – it’s something that we might have seen on “Yes Minister”, given that it’s so old, irrelevant and abstract. Everyone understands the word ‘Government’, whereas ‘Crown’ is synonymous with a very small group of people buried in a basement in Treasury “who don’t get out that much”.

Life” and Trevor Black chipped in too here, whilst Dr Gordy made fun of my mistaking the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee for a distinguished actress (!)-  but he also made a serious point;

“Wait till Patricia (Margaret to the rest of us Peter) Hodge picks up on that and asks how much this unforeseen delay is losing taxpayer savings”.

Our post on procurement in schools drew some very interesting comments. Dave Sheldon said:

“Governments have made schools more and more autonomous and Heads are, in many cases, unable to make proper contracting decisions when faced by salesmen who lie and pull the wool over their eyes. Yes I’m talking about copier and printers which have cost the education systems millions in excessive payments”!

Helen Lumb suggested we should  “highlight the work of the Education Funding Agency (EFA) who produce the Academies Financial Handbook and regular bulletins which set out financial responsibilities and requirements. The bulletin highlights important hot topics schools should note or action”.

Trevor Black spoke from experience – here’s just an excerpt:

“I can say from personal experience that schools (through no fault of their own) are one of the key sources of commercial ineptitude and waste… I have gone into many schools where they have requested assistance and discovered a catalogue of disasters… Many are vulnerable to any sales spiv walking off the street and will reveal the existing contract information in the belief they will get a better price. My biggest challenge was attempting to explain to a Headteacher the principles of economies of scale but as they are tuned to transmit and not to receive the only thing I got out of it was a headache”!

And Cora pointed out that schools do have an answer:

“Schools across England can get access for FREE to the Government eMarketplace. This gives them instant access to GPS and YPO content at the best value prices from compliant suppliers. It’s safe, cost effective and will deliver efficiencies for each school if used correctly”.

Our series of posts on Supplier Diversity (see here and here) are drawing high quality comments from people who understand that field. Here is Justin Lambert from Pharma firm MSD:

“I often tell anyone who will listen the following analogy, imagine a table and sitting at that table are six people from the same background, come from the same culture, have the same beliefs are educated the same way;... just imagine how that conversation could be so one dimensional, now just imagine if the same table had people from multiple cultures and perspectives around it, surely that conversation would be more vibrant, provocative and much more creative. .. if you are in a corporate and you only speak to Business Development managers from other corporates, will you ever get a diverse business perspective, will you really be getting the best out of your supply market”?

And it was good to hear from Alis Sindbjerg Hemmingsen again (who has her own excellent website covering CSR issues).

“ Supplier diversity to me is, when companies actively work to integrate underutilized businesses into their procurement processes, strategies and decisions. Integrating diverse suppliers is important to the supply chain to ensure diversified thinking. Simply, to get other ways of getting things done. Other ways of generating ideas. And of course wealth creation is also adding value to the brand….

In Responsible Procurement Management only a few mention the risk associated with a less educated workforce, higher unemployment, increased poverty levels and a lowered standard of living in society. Really it is a high risk. That is why Procurement plays a vital role in ensuring the possibility of diverse suppliers to participate in developing the business”.

Thanks as always to everyone who comments – and I’m planning to have a weekly “comments round-up” as a regular feature here.

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