More On CIPS SM Awards Integrity Issue – A Statement from CIPS

Following our story about the CIPS SM Awards and the preponderance of winners whose procurement heads happened to be on the judging panel, we asked CIPS and Supply Management magazine (Haymarket) who are the joint organisers for their comment.

We got this which we assume is a joint response from the two organisations.

"We pride ourselves on the integrity and transparency of our awards and the judging process, and believe this is what makes us stand out from others in this space.  Our standards are incredibly high and our judges are selected on this basis and are all senior procurement professionals working in highly regarded organisations.  Judges are not permitted to be on the panel for more than 2 years and sign up to our confidentiality agreement.

We manage multiple conflicts of interest during our process and exclude judges from scoring their own organisation, organisations that they have left within the past 2 years, competitors and in some cases, supplier or client relationships.  They do not score these entries and are excluded from any discussions.  We allow judges to enter because we are so confident in our process and the integrity and professionalism of our judges.  Both the celebration and disappointment comes as a complete surprise to the judges whose organisations have entered on the night".

It’s a very reasonable explanation, although it does not take away our fears that there must be at the very least unconscious pressure on the other judges when it is their “colleagues” on the panel that they are judging. It’s human nature, I’m afraid - read Nobel-prize winner Daniel Kahneman on behavioural psychology if you have any doubts about that.

However, CIPS makes a big thing about how this focus on propriety makes their awards “stand out” from other awards. We don’t really see how that applies; I don’t recall a similar situation when I judged the GO Public Procurement awards last year, and while it is in a somewhat different field, the Management Consultancies Association awards (which I’ve judged several times) does not use judges who work for any of the firms who enter.

So why not just say “you can’t enter if you judge”?  Maybe CIPS is worried it might be hard to find credible judges? Or the cynics might suggest it could be more a fear that this might reduce the number of tables sold at the dinner – this must be a big money-maker for CIPS and Haymarket now. There’s nothing wrong with that (and Peter Williams, the CIPS Past President who came up with the awards idea in the first place should get a free ticket every year for life), as long as commercial considerations don’t become the be-all and end-all.

Anyway, we’re not intending to go on about this endlessly. CIPS members, Board and Congress can decide if they think it is an issue and make their views known if they do. It’ll be interesting to see if they care.


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Voices (2)

  1. Final Furlong:

    They all need to take a page out of Dave Smith’s book. If you’re a judge, you should tell your organisation that you can’t enter a submission. Simple.

    1. The Lady Doth Protest:

      Agreed. I’d also add “former employer” to that list. The year my team was up for one – surprise, surprise, a judge’s former employer won…

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