Links I Liked [Public Procurement]

1. For profit prisons are big...and a big problem in the US. The issue of privatisation of prisons was the main topic of the PPP podcast #4 with Amy Ludlow which will go up later this week.

2. American defense procurement is in a mess. Allegedly.

3. There is room for improvement on the Care Quality Commission procurement practices. An audit on two contracts from 2013 showed a number of problems. More like these (audits), please. Plus, thankfully care service contracts below €750,000 have been taken out of the main procurement rules. I am sure the problems detected are due to the (old) rules only and that now, free from the shackles of those EU rules, procurement of care services will be excellent.

4. Repeat with me: paper trail, paper trail, paper fundamental in public procurement. In Geodesign Barriers Limited v The Environment Agency [2015] EWHC 1121, the court found that the Environment Agency was unable to keep proper record keeping of decision making meetings. This is another personal bugbear of me as no contracting authority would even conceive not having a proper audit trail for any sort of administrative procedure, let alone a procurement one.

Paragraph 25 of Judge Coulson's decision says it all: "As I observed in my brief oral judgment at the end of the hearing, the absence of a contemporaneous Tender Evaluation Report of any kind in this case raises a significant question mark as to the transparency and clarity of the procurement exercise. It gives rise to a whole host of questions. For example; how can any of the tenderers be certain that there has been a fair and transparent process if the documentation relating to that process is a miscellaneous collection of manuscript notes, some written on the back of an old notebook, and some subsequent documents produced for the debriefing/feedback exercise? Furthermore, how could that latter category of documents have even been prepared, if there were no contemporaneous documents recording the results of the evaluation? Take for example the comparison document which shows that the scores awarded to the claimant and Inero, in respect of the second stage technical questions, were the same. How could the writer of that document (whoever they were) have been sure that the scores were indeed the same, if there were no contemporaneous record of the scores actually awarded? How was the detail in that debriefing/feedback document prepared if there was nothing on which it could have been based?"

Oh dear. And I thought that in the top 1% of authorities procurement practice tended to be good.

5. Can devolved procurement work for the NHS? I remain fairly skeptical of devolving procurement powers/responsibilitities for ever smaller entities. Procurement is getting progressively more complex and difficult, in consequence keeping skills up to date is becoming increasingly more difficult as well.