Links I Liked [Public Procurement]

1. World Bank starts MOOC on PPPs (French only). Older English version here. I sincerely hope they cover also the downsides of PPPs.

2. 18F publishes beta website with US Government spending. Now if only we would do the same in Europe...

3. Night bus service in Barcelona to be re-tendered (Spanish only). Never understood why the night bus service in Barcelona uses different buses from the day ones. All that capacity sitting idle during the day? Makes no sense.

4. Just Another Paperclip? Rethinking the Market for Complex Public Services. Good report by Gary Sturgess.

5. An Exercise in Underachievement–The UK’s Half-Hearted Half-Measures To Exclude Corrupt Bidders from Public Procurement. Talk is cheap.

Links I Liked [Public Procurement]

1. Portuguese Audit Court unimpressed with PFI/PPP hospital (Portuguese only). The Audit Court analysed the first couple of years of the Loures privately managed hospital in Portugal and did not find significant management improvements in comparison with the best publicly managed hospitals. Its management is better than average for the country, but that is pretty much it. (NB: I was involved in a minor capacity as a lawyer on the original tender procedure back in 2004/2005, which was never concluded. I was not involved in the final one.)

2. Conflict of interest in health procurement in Yorkshire. Very interesting. As Albert mentioned on Twitter, if only the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 were applicable to this case... (his comment; my comment). PS: This situation would be dead easy to solve in Portugal...

3. How technology and a small team is changing procurement in the US. Well, not only procurement but Government in general.

4. Sidney adopts e-ink for some traffic signs. Now that is innovation. Well done. Oh, and Sheffield is creating a SmartLab to find new solutions for problems the city have. Now if only they matched the design/development stage with actual procurement...

5. No water cannons for Boris Johnson. At least he did some savvy procurement by getting the water cannons second hand from Germany. They may be useful as mobile fountains during this scorcher Summer we are having...

6. Speaking of Boris...More on the Roastmaster, sorry Routemaster. Great write up by the Guardian on the Routemaster bus. Some great insight about the difficulties of doing procurement of innovation well and how costs can quickly spiral out of control. I am still puzzled by the assumption that the bus could be sold in other markets and if that happened (it did not) it would have an effect on the price TFL would pay for the bus. Wondering what kind of intellectual property agreement exists between TFL and Wrightbus. In any event, there is no innovation without risk. There is no innovation without failure.

Links I Liked [Public Procurement]

1. PPP/PFI risks (in Spanish). I would add to the list information asymmetry and regulator capture. Very good points nonetheless.

2. Damages and re-tendering awarded in Woods Building Services vs Milton Keynes Council [2015] EWHC 2172 (TCC). Interestingly enough although Judge Coulson recognised that the decision should be set aside and there was a loss of profit, the damages awarded did not cover loss of profit as the contract is to be re-tendered. Apparently the claimant did not request in its claim for the contract to be awarded to it. Fascinating. Full decision here.

3. UK public procurement rules 'hinder digital purchases'.  "A bad carpenter blames his tools."

4. Borisbus is now known as the Roastmaster. My first impression upon reading this piece was to rail against the whole idea and how it was conceived. The more nuanced part of my brain counter argued that failure is part of the price of innovation and for the most part hybrid diesel/electrical bus fleets are still under development. Having said that, the door opening on the back is a gimmick that has nothing to do with innovation as do the small windows on the top or the lack of proper ventilation. That is just poor design, sorry.

5. The new World Bank Procurement Framework has been approved. Here we go into uncharted territory. Or maybe not as there is a lot in there based on European experience.

Links I Liked [Public Procurement]

1. The only real PPP in Portugal is dead (Portuguese only). By real I mean a deal where the risk stayed with the private contractor instead of the public sector. Teixeira Duarte (private contractor) allegedly lost €42M in the deal, a significant sum in a small country like Portugal.

2. Last week's 3rd e-procurement conference was great. Had a great time and would like to thank the organisers for inviting me back again. Met a bunch of interesting people I was yet to bump into in procurement related conferences. And Peter Smith once more! You can find my presentation on the presentations folder.

3. Procurement is waking up to technology (at least in the US). As I said before, procurement is ripe for digital destruction and it cannot happen soon enough.

4. There is an award for procurement thesis going on. And not a bad one!

5. Some people miss pre-qualification questionnaires. I disagree with Ian Thompson's findings but good read nonetheless. 

PS: Apologies for the slowness of the updates but most of last week was spent travelling. Friday took us 6 hours to get from Bristol Airport to Swansea (do not ask...). Plus, I am currently enjoying a throwback to my allergy infused younger years. Not funny. Oh, and there is *that* new project coming up right around the corner.

Links I Liked [Public Procurement]

1. The Small Business Act may have an impact in public procurement here in the UK? Crown Commercial Services says it is not a land grab.

2. Portugal saves up to €2,000,000,000 re-negotiating PPP/PFI contracts. Over the last 20 years the country was blanketed (bankrupted) with plenty of shiny new roads. Apparently, Government has managed to save €2 billion by renegotiating 6 of those contracts. Now if only it could do the same with plenty of other rent seeking contracts...

3. British Medical Associations calls for all NHS contracts to have social clauses. My view about ideas like this should be obvious by now - we need to make procurement simpler, not making it ever more complex by trying to hit more and more objectives.

4. EC chief economist slams "home bias" in public procurement. Music to my years. Perhaps it is time to reconsider even within the EU why thresholds are so high, real cross-border qualifications and the big one - forcing contracting authorities to accept tenders in another language? Yes, I am aware that particularly the last one is a pipe dream...PS: The actual Chief Economist Note #1 is here. Good reading.

5. Procurement Matters Pub Talk is tomorrow. Peter Smith from Procurement Matters is organising a nice debate at the Red Lion Pub in Whitehall, London, 5.30 – 7pm on the topic: “This House believes that the result of the General Election will have no impact on public procurement.” I will pin my colours to the mast that says that a Labour Government will change procurement policies (even if not the Regulations). Disclosure: while I was at the Institute for Competition and Procurement Studies, Professor Dermot Cahill advised Labour on procurement matters. I am not privy to any information other than what has been made publicly available.

Links I Liked [Public Procurement]

1. Are urban developments subject to procurement rules (or at least principles)?

Good case report by Paul Henty. I remember vividly a discussion back in 2007/8 with my then Ph.D supervisor about how come development contracts are not considered relevant for the internal market and as such subject to EU rules? My overarching point is that procurement rules should cover not only the buying strictu sensu but also contracts where money flows the other way around. I posed the same question in 2005 or 2006 to the team then drafting the Portuguese Public Contracts Code (which regulates procurement above and beyond EU requirements) about similar land deals after witnessing first hand some trainwreck examples of horrible practice.

2. PPP trouble dans la France

Again, I remember another discussion (this time in 2009) sponsored by the Commission where PPPs were being bandied around as the best thing since sliced bread. Being a killjoy I argued that they have significant issues such as information asymmetry, regulator capture and the like, problems we saw in Portugal. One of the respondents happened to be the head of the PPP observatory in France who remarked drily that "the Portuguese have no idea how to run PPPs." Oh, well...

3. Should we have Procurement Ombudsmen in Europe like Canada does?

I think so, and have defended it since 2012. In some countries (UK, Ireland) there are not enough legal challenges in procurement, whereas in others (Portugal, Spain), whole court systems have ground to an halt due to an avalanche of procurement related cases.

4. How good (and EU compliant) is the Slovakian procurement law?

Not much it appears, but I will reserve passing judgement until I talk with some local colleagues.