Down the Procurement Pub with DWP, Basware, Cycling, the NHS and John Smith

After eWorld last week, we repaired to the Westminster Arms, which when I finally write my political thriller will be a key location, as the drinking place for UK government civil servants, politicians, journalists and confused looking tourists alike.

Along with Jason, Nancy and me, various other dodgy characters were present including Mr Rob Knott (not pictured), a Tradeshift contingent and these three; from left to right, Stefan Dent, David Atkinson and Terry Mackay. David you may know as SRM guru and occasional writer and webinar presenter for us; Terry has done very big jobs in procurement consulting and plays international “masters” basketball (as you might guess), and Stefan is one of the driving forces behind and senior directors of Simfoni. I first met him when he worked with me in government back in the early days of this Millennium … amazingly that was fifteen years ago, but he still looks about 25.


We were pleased to see the UK Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) winning the ultimate accolade at the 2018 CIPS Supply Management Awards Europe. The technology behind the winning project was designed and implemented by software firm Basware and is an innovative “Dynamic Purchasing System" (DPS) to support a light-touch procurement regime that helps unemployed people get back to work faster by allowing a wide range of training providers to work with DWP and job seekers, in a controlled but flexible manner. Basware’s work with DWP was chosen as the ‘Most Innovative Use of Technology’ but also got the ‘Overall Winner’ prize, triumphing over 10 other category winners. Well done DWP and Basware – we may well take a closer look at this solution soon.


Next Monday and Tuesday I will be cycling from Stroud to Shrewsbury with Guy Allen and - on day 2 - the afore-mentioned David Atkinson. Guy and David then continue to North Wales without me for three more days, crazy young things that they are. With a combined age of about 175, we are not exactly Wiggins, Thomas and Froome but please wish us well, and be patient if you get stuck behind a cyclist anywhere next week! Follow our adventures on Guy's website where he is tracking his around Britain journey (in one-week bursts) - following Daniel Defoe's example.


The case of the NHS supplier that is stockpiling clinical waste (including body parts) seems beyond comprehension. It raises so many questions about procurement strategies and contract management I just don’t know where to start really. The supplier - Healthcare Environment Services (HES) has now been stripped of its NHS contracts according to the Guardian, but the firm claims it is a shortage of incineration capacity that is to blame. Nonsense, replies the government. Something is badly wrong, that much is clear. All these amazing procurement people Cabinet Office has recruited, and we appear to have a supplier who can’t handle a basic but really important task.


Talking of Cabinet Office… do you think they know their previous CCS CEO, Malcolm Harrison, has gone to run CIPS? Several months ago?  What’s happened to his replacement? I mean, I know Crown Commercial Services isn’t that important really, it’s only responsible for £10 billion or so of public spend a year, but really… what’s going on?  I mean, if you can’t even find a CEO ….


A bit of folk today, and John Smith (no relation although I have a cousin and a late uncle with that name) shows that you don’t have to have an unusual name to make it in the world of music. His work straddles the styles of both the modern exponents of the “traditional” British folk tradition (e.g. Richard Thompson, Martin Carthy) and contemporary artists such as Ben Howard and Bon Iver, and he is a brilliant singer and guitarist.  John Martyn also comes to mind as a parallel maybe. His new album Hummingbird is well worth checking out if you are a fan of either of those genres.

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Voices (2)

  1. ron jarman:

    Talking of cycling, can I recommend a fantastic 3-day ride along the side of a lovely Norwegian fjord – not sure cycling can ever get much better than this

    Suitable for all levels of cyclist, all shapes and sizes

  2. Procurement-Every-Woman:

    Interestingly, when the firm now in trouble won business recently in the NW it was the subject of this case, a legal challenge from the previous incumbent, who argued that HES had put in an unrealistically low bid. :

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