Getting round the procurement regulations – a cautionary tale…

Chief Constable Mickelson, good to meet you. Rebecca de Winter. Please, call me Becky, everyone does. As you probably know, I’m the account director for the Barsetshire Police contract. Can I just say how delighted we are to have won the Partnership 2020 contract with you. It’s very exciting for us and I’m sure we will do a great job and help you make Barsetshire the best police force in the UK!

- Thank you Becky. We’ve got a tough task ahead of us to hit the budget targets and keep crime on a downward curve in the County and I think we need the help of a firm like Cops4U plc to achieve our goals.

Thank you, Chief Constable.

- Now there is one matter I wanted to talk to you about confidentially. Just so I understand things correctly, if you run a procurement process on our behalf, you have to go through the formal procurement processes – the EU regulations and all that.

That’s right. If we are acting as your agent, then the rules still apply. We’re just running the process for you.

- But if you engage a sub-contractor, and you pay them, then you charge us separately for that work, then the rules and regulations don’t apply?

That’s right Chief Constable. The purchasing we do on our own behalf isn’t caught by the regulations. Neither would it be open to – for instance – Freedom of Information requests.

- Ah.. interesting, very interesting. Now – forgive me, I just need to understand these things. And am I right in thinking we drew up the contract, and ran the process by which we selected you as our partner, in a very broad manner? So we can ask you to do almost anything for us?

That’s right. That was a deliberate strategy to maximise your flexibility. You said that very openly.

- Good, good. So, let’s talk about the specifics. You’re going to be supplying i-Pads to several hundred of my people soon aren’t you – this innovative new IT programme you’re helping us implement. So do Cops4U have a supplier in mind to provide the i-Pads?

Well, I think we have a corporate agreement with an Apple dealer in Birmingham..

- Can I suggest an alternative? I think it’s very important that we’re seen to be supporting local business. And there’s an excellent  IT dealership in Barsetshire, just 10 miles from here actually. I’d really like to see our equipment coming from them. Via your firm  of course.

Well, we do normally run our own competitive procurement processes, we’re proud of our skill in that area, so we could include them in the tender....

- No, Becky, you may  not be understanding me properly. Let me make it clear. If you want this relationship to work, if you want Cops4U to succeed here, I really, really would like the equipment to come from this supplier. (He hands over a piece of paper).No competitive process please.

Mickelson Technology?

- Yes, just ask for Jim.

Can I ask.. is he related?

- My cousin. But what does that matter? He’ll give you a great deal, don’t worry. I don’t expect you to need to do too much negotiating if you understand me.

Yes, of course, Chief Constable.

- And they’ll give us top class service, I know. Now, if we do get any enquiries, you just need to say that you always apply robust procurement processes, without giving too many details. But just so I’m clear, you don’t have to respond to FOI or answer questions from the new Police Commissioner about this?

No, we can just play the commercial in confidence card and refuse to say anything other than the most general comments ..  And I assume we can add our usual margin – as per the contract – to cover our costs?

- Yes, of course.  In fact, I won’t object if you add another couple of percent. Just to make sure you’re covering your costs, you understand.

Well, yes, I think that’s fine. I’ll get my people going on this immediately.

- Good, good. Now, I’ve got to go I’m afraid, but if we can meet again next month,  I have a few other excellent suppliers that I’d like to tell you about. People I’d really like to see us – I mean you – working with. And Becky, thank you for being so understanding, I think we’re going to enjoy working together!


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