Thursday, 12 January 2012

Organisational Integrity (ii)

Here's what lay behind my post before Christmas.

A client had approached me and asked me to design and run an awayday for them.  We had met and discussed the needs, and agreed a draft design for the day, a date and so on.

Then they said that we would have to go through a tendering process.  (I was slightly surprised at this, as the value of the event was not high, and I was already on an approved suppliers' register, following a  previous 'framework' tender).

But what concerned me was that:

A) Either I was the only person being asked to tender, in which case it seemed entirely meaningless (particularly as one of their organisational priorities is reducing meaningless work...);

B) Or they were inviting others to tender, in which case:

  1.  Either they had really decided to use me, but were going through the motions (wasting their own and others' time, and compromising their integrity) or
  2. It was a real competition, in which case I had been misled earlier, when we had agreed that I would do the work, on a specific date etc (on the basis of which I did the (admittedly small amount of) consultation and design at no cost).
Further, I was expected to sign declarations of non-collusion,  non-canvassing etc, including a statement that I had not talked with anyone at the organisation about this bit of work.

That was clearly a nonsense, and I could not sign it.

The good news is that I have talked all this through with the appropriate senior managers, they agree with my analysis that the system has thrown up something which, inadvertently, goes against a number of their own principles of operation, and they are sorting it out.

But as a supplier, it can be hard to raise such issues ('I can't sign that!') if one fears one may lose a contract, or even a client.  There must be a better way...

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