Crown Commercial Service is looking for senior public procurement policy advisors

So it seems, although the full description is "Senior Policy Adviser - Brexit - International Agreements."

Although I have the feeling this is one of those positions where you will either end up having a ton of interesting work or none at all depending on how the Brexit negotiations end up. Deadline is December 18th.


Links I Liked [Public Procurement]

1. Big changes at the hear of the Crown Commercial Service. Sally Collier is out and Malcom Harrison takes over as interim director. What will this mean for the overall approach to procurement taken by the CCS?

2. ANTICORRP publishes three reports on implementation, monitoring and enforcement of anti-corruption legislation in Europe.

3. Spain's Supreme Court annuls 129 (!) service concessions extensions (Spanish only). Galician regional government had extended those concessions for a further 10 years from the original term and the Court found that to be illegal under EU law.

4. Why your next procurement vehicle should be a bus. Interesting take on the experience of San Francisco changing its procurement practice. The underlying programme is called Startup in Residence and looks great.

5. UK Strategic suppliers (?) sign up to the Prompt Payment Code. Even after 9 years in the UK I am always amazed at the profusion of "codes" and "best practice" soft law approaches to regulation. If the problem of prompt payment does exist, then either it is worth the political cost to enact appropriate legislation or not. Measures like the Prompt Payment Code are half way house approaches which do not solve the underlying problem and only give an appearance something is changing.

Links I Liked [Public Procurement]

1. Israel's Competition Authority finds a cartel operating in Auschwitz tour operators. It seems that the government tendered a contract to take Israeli kids on tours to Auschwitz to 5-6 companies. I assume Israel set up something akin to a framework agreement as each individual school was supposed to negotiate with the companies. Nothing like a stable market with few economic operators to "help" competition.

2. Speaking of competition, the Competition and Markets Authority and the Crown Commercial Service launch a e-learning programme to help spotting bid rigging. It is free as far as I can tell, but you need to register. It would have been better to just put it out in the open in my view.

3. All you wanted to know about Korean e-procurement, courtesy of the OECD. Good report.

4. Indian government lowers bar for startups in public procurement. In general, I am in favour of transaction cost reducing measures, but this is the wrong way to go about it. By giving a preferential treatment to startups what will happen is that the market will adapt and all tenderers will become "startups" in the future (although I am assuming it is easy to set up companies in India...).

5. Sascha Haselmayer pushes for more innovation in cities. I agree with him and under the right conditions the innovation partnership could help here in Europe. But not as the Azores regional government transposed it!

Links I Liked [Public Procurement]

1. EU rules save British tax payer money, politicians and newspapers complain. Seriously, go and read the link. The Telegraph is particularly disingenuous by slamming EU rules for "lowest price criteria" in the lead, before quoting someone in the process with this: “The award criteria looked at the whole life cost of vehicles rather than just the purchase price; taking into account ongoing costs such as fuel usage and servicing to ensure police forces get the best value for money." So much for lowest price.

There are other pearls in the article: "But there was controversy when 1965 the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary put an order for Volvo estate cars from Sweden. That was followed by a decision by Thames Valley police to order BMW cars in 1972." The irony, of course, is that the UK joined the then EEC in 1973.. Hat tip to @RalphGrahn.

2. Renua presents its ideas for public procurement in Ireland. More here. It is great to see a centrist party giving importance to procurement and chiding away from easy, populist musings about the topic. Note: I modestly contributed to their policy document.

3. How much measuring is too much? Not really connected with public procurement (except in the part related to the professionalisation of the workforce) but Accenture and Deloitte have reviewed their annual performance reviews for staff. One has to be careful with what he measures...

4. Speaking of which... Is procurement focus probably stymying innovation, asks Stephen Ashcroft. Applicable to both private and public procurement alike.

5.  The US Digital Service makes it to Hacker News and Y Combinator. A ringing endorsement to the US Digital Service by the leading startup accelerator programme in the world. Although the work Central Government is making in the UK to improve the accessibility and friendliness of their websites and its work is seen from the US as a benchmark (including the Crown Commercial Service), I find the US Digital Service much more ambitious and interesting in the long run. It is one thing to improve the output, another completely different to change the processes. There is a freshness to US Digital Service lacking elsewhere. Plus, it is simply more modern and forward looking than anything we have here in Europe. If you do not believe me, read their Playbook.

Edit: I forgot to mention the UK's Government Digital Service which, unfortunately, appears to be imploding.

Links I Liked [Public Procurement]

1. The Crown Commercial Service wants help re-designing its digital services. My suggestion is to put all the damn procurement data available on a easily searchable database format. No, excel spreadsheets are not what I am thinking about. But that is for the ex-post, while the Digital Services Team is looking for help on what the actual service should look like and how it should operate. I think it is a great idea to have this "client centered" approach and other administrations (even in the UK) should take notice...

Having said that I have a queasy feeling about a new Request for Proposals idea. Much better to evolve what I developed a couple of years ago with the simplified open procedure than to enhance the attractiveness of non-competitive award procedures.

2. Speaking of data dumps, the "old" Contracts Finder is now available as an archive. Kudos for that.

3. Danger zones in the new Public Contracts Regulations 2015? Not necessarily the ones I would have chosen. For example I would consider the new "light touch" regime as highly dangerous area but hey, it brings "flexibility". I remain bullish that practice under the light touch regime will become worse, not better.

4. Interoperability will be key to make e-procurement work (in Spanish). Very, very true, particularly when we are talking about cross-border issues. Electronic solutions can as easily facilitate cross-border procurement if standards are use, though the opposite is true as well. Just imagine the web without HTML or email without an underlying standard. Minitel anyone?

5. Bad procurement behind the US Office of Personnel Management data breach? A 36 hour (!) turnaround for a $20 million credit report services contracts raises more than just eyebrows. Although the title is slightly misleading as the record turnaround time does not appear to have been for the underlying IT contract.

Links I Liked [Public Procurement]

1. Crown Commercial Service Update for June 2015. Not many highlights but I will point out two policy updates. One already mentioned here about the new "obligation" of compliance with the Mystery Shopper service, the other about the statistical returns for 2013 and 2014 public contracts (which should be sent to the CCS by July 10th). Will the return rates improve? I remain sceptical. 

In the meanwhile we are still waiting for further guidance on how to use the Public Contracts Regulations 2015.

2. Nominees for the 2015 Procurement of Innovation Award have been published. None from the UK (or Portugal for that matter).

3. Civic Tech is the Next Big Thing. Fully agreed, although it will take an awful long time to see that happening often in the EU. We are getting there, albeit slowly.

4. Big shake up on the World Bank procurement guidelines and procedures is coming. Money is on that it will look more like EU procurement. It is probably no coincidence that the new Chief Procurement Officer of the WB is a Briton. I do not usually cover WB procurement here, but that may change in the future.

5. In the Philippines, there is no bad procurement just bad laws. Where have I heard this excuse before...

Speaking of the Philippines, they are one of the few countries with a Procurement Ombudsman. Did not really work out well there it seems.