London Bridge is Falling Down

But this time, it’s not the vikings*, it’s the procurement. And this is not a good thing. Bridges need to be built, not put on indefinite hold while enquiries are made into funding proposals. But then again, why does a foot bridge cost £185M?

As per a recent post by the public defender over on Spend Matters UK on how Procurement and Funding [is] To Be Reviewed, while a previous internal review by Transport for London did not find any evidence that would suggest that the final recommendations did not provide value for money from the winning bidders, the report did find major breaches of good procurement process. From allowing a supplier to submit a bid after the formal deadline, to a lack of documentation, to changing the evaluation process once bids were received, to treating suppliers differently – as we said, if any unsuccessful bidder had challenged in court there is no doubt that they would have won their case.

While this is bad, and provides a solid reason to put everything on hold for further examination and inquiry, this situation should never have happened in the first place. With so many resources on good public procurement available from the EU, the OECD, and private government oversight organizations, there’s no excuse, and no call, for any government procurement body in any advanced country to conduct an event like this — especially when there are good public procurement platforms (including, but not limited to Intenda, Causeway, Perfect Commerce, and others) to prevent situations like this from happening (and some are custom built for big procurement projects). Modern platforms block late submissions, allow evaluation criteria to be locked down before the bid goes out, allow initial submissions to be reviewed blind, and so on.

So, we beg you, before any more bridges fall down (or literally fall down because the funding to fix them has to be put on indefinite hold while the Procurement process is reviewed), learn the rules, follow the best practices, and put good platforms in place that prevent bad processes from ever happening in the first place.

* While the popular rhyme has to do with London Bridge falling down, the reality is that the rhyme might be the result of the destruction of (a) London bridge by Olaf the II of Norway somewhere between 1009 and 1014.

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