Wednesday 8 October 2014

South African Police in Keystone Cops Style Procurement Practices

By Ben Turner

As procurement professionals, we’re constantly exhorted to ensure we follow a proper, robust process in our tenders; to ensure that the contracts are ultimately awarded to the best placed supplier to deliver the service.
It’s a time consuming exercise: building a robust specification, developing and signing off on an evaluation model and managing a tender process through supplier queries and site visits. However, it’s good every now and then to remind ourselves of why we do this.

The Pretoria High Court recently overturned a contract award worth nearly 2 billion Rand (£108 million), which had been made by the South African police to two suppliers of spare parts for vehicles. Not only is this highly embarrassing and potentially costly for the responsible procurement function, as they will doubtless have to restart their procurement process from scratch once the legal process has completed, but it is also having a dire effect on the delivery of the vital services of the South African police.

So severe is the shortage of spare parts that large numbers of vehicles have been taken out of service, forcing many stations to ask officers to take their own vehicles to work. Given the highly specialised nature of some police vehicles, this will surely have severe consequences, perhaps even costing lives.

So the next time you are grumbling about following a particularly onerous procurement process, remember the South African police. Think about what might happen if there was a legal challenge to your award, how it will affect the end users of the product service, all the way down the supply chain.

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