Public Spend Matters Europe – Highlights from this Week

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Here is our Friday run down of  what we have published for you this week on our site dedicated to exciting and fascinating matters connected with European public sector procurement. And before you even think about switching off ... 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.

Anyway, here are summaries of our features this week – do click though and read the full articles.

Category Management in the Public Sector - Jonathan O'Brien's Book Contributes to Debate

Category management has been an important tool in private sector firms for some twenty years, with the general principle of looking at major spend areas in a structured, proactive and business-focused manner being well accepted. But it has taken some time for it to achieve any real impact in the public sector, and some still doubt whether it is applicable at all, given the constraints such as national and international procurement regulations. This month saw the publication of a new edition of an excellent book on the subject - Category Management in Purchasing by Jonathan O'Brien of Positive Purchasing. We explore some of its most relevant points.

US Essay Examines How To Tackle Procurement Cost Overruns

An essay examining public procurement cost overruns in the US may reflect similar issues faced in the EU and could offer some guidance for governments in Europe. The essay, “Federal Government Cost Overruns” claims that the growth of the US government has made it inefficient, with agencies having little incentive to control costs or improve quality of goods and services. This has led to wasteful spending practices - specifically spending on large projects based on estimated costs, which then end up with a larger tax bill when project costs increase. In conclusion, the essay says that cost overruns stem from a combination of deceit and mismanagement, that they promote the “survival of the unfittest.”

Scotland Wants Public Procurement to Identify "Good Employers" - A Flawed and Impractical Approach

With the issue last week of a new set of guidance, "Selection of Tenderers and Award of Contracts - Addressing Fair Work Practices, including the Living Wage, in Procurement," the Scottish government appears to have tipped over the edge. The Scottish government has done some good work on procurement in recent years, but here it appears to have moved into making a political point that will do nothing to improve public procurement. Here are our thoughts.

Auditing Report: Northern Ireland Events Company Covered Up Debts With Fabricated Invoices

An auditing report into a now defunct quango in Northern Ireland found that its chief executive covered up losses with misleading records and sometimes fabricated documents. Former CEO and accounting officer of the Northern Ireland Events Committee (NIEC) was heavily criticised in the report for trying to hide debts of almost £1.5 million as well as failing to declare conflicts of interest. The report said there had been a “complete breakdown of financial control” within the publicly funded body. When we get into the realms of fake invoices and awarding contracts to friends, then it is surprising that criminal proceedings have not resulted.

Dividing Contracts Into Lots - Alternative Approaches

We recently wrote an article about the issues of lots and lotting (splitting up their contract requirements into smaller contracts), and the confusion in the UK around how far contracting authorities need to go in terms of lotting, or at least showing that they have considered lotting. We said then that some sort of tool would perhaps be useful to help authorities think about the issues and decide which approach to take. So we have been thinking about that, and in this article we give the key factors that tend to make lotting more or less attractive.

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