Readers’ comments from last week on Spend Matters

We take a look at your comments on our articles from the past week.

Machiavelli for procurement professionals – don’t be hated, and don’t steal your team’s women (men)!

Discussing Machiavelli’s book The Prince and the controversial aspects of his thinking, we look at his attitude to truth and laws, and his cynical view of the public.

Emily Crews-Montes had a lot to say on the subject. We’ve condensed it down for you:

“It is clear that The Prince is still relevant today when it comes to the allocation of resources, at which point humans revert to their natural state!

In the UK I doubt that most managers, however senior, can rely upon the obedience of his reports, as the English-speaking world’s culture

In France, it would be seen as ‘normal’ that anyone so much as speaking out of turn (not even acting) would receive a rap on the knuckles. It is interesting, however, to see that Machiavelli needed to deal the subject of ‘messing with citizens’ possessions’.

Perhaps The Prince is most relevant in companies with a strong corporate culture, as the need to toe the company line has a lot in common with the conformist, 'high power distance' (Hofstede) cultural context of this work."

Legal Aid – barristers versus the Government, who will prevail?

The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) is responsible for managing the UK government’s £2 billion a year spend on Legal Aid in England and Wales. Whilst some key elements of the welfare state have been protected even during the current pressure on public finances, Legal Aid is under pressure and that £2 Billion is being squeezed, and barristers are fighting back.

Trevor Black said:

“The cost of legal aid to Asil Nadar was £1m. Yet he was living in a rented villa in Belgravia at £23000 per month and driven to court each day in a limo. Add this to the legal aid granted to prisoners for claims that should never reach court, you can understand why it can be reasonable judged that the legal profession has lost the plot.”

Bitter and Twisted raised a good point:

“Aren’t there loads of unemployed law graduates?”

Dan answered for us:

“There’s a difference between a law graduate and a lawyer. To qualify as a lawyer you have to then do an extra year (Legal Practice Course for solicitors and Bar Vocational Course for barristers). No student loan for this, so it has to be a bank loan. Then you have to do two years training with a law firm, for which you will be paid a pittance. I’m a law graduate who never pursued a career in law, and somehow ended up in procurement. I’m still not sure if I had a lucky escape or not.”

Which supplier is making 30% margins from government buyers?

This unnamed organisation provides a range of services across different categories, and are developing what is clearly more and more of a monopoly position. This margin needs to be reduced significantly, we discuss what action needs to be taken.

Market Dojo said:

“I wonder which of the GPS revenue streams generated the biggest profits? As a supplier to the GPS, a negotiation would be great, and if so can we have some of our money back?! “

While Ian Taylor suggested:

“How about organising a group of ex CIPS Presidents to act as a Collective Crown Commercial Representative to do this. I’m sure Amyas Morse would endorse that on behalf of the NAO!”

Feetontheground seemed to have an inside scoop:

“The levy was to cover the cost of GPS and the same secret source tells me that a few years back, the surplus was redistributed to their customers. Now though, the surplus is supposed to cover training, IT enablement, collection of MI etc across Government and presumably the creation and staffing of the Crown Commercial Service (to which GPS have just been rebranded), Crown Commercial Representatives etc etc.”

And lastly, Little Acorn raised an interesting point:

“My question would be – what is the ‘real’ margin on the Serco, G4S etc. contracts? What with divisions withing divisions, each charging it’s mark-up so that it’s amazing the accounts aren’t showing a loss! In GPS’s defence (I’ll now need tomgomsit in a darken room) it doesn’t have multi-layers to use to fudge the numbers.”

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