I want to continue a theme I developed in my last blog this week. Through my work, I see many different examples of procurement practices within local authorities; each appear to have their own procurement guidelines that potential suppliers must follow. Here are two examples from Local Authorities within the UK.
Authority 1 has a published procurement policy that requires all contracts with a value in excess of £30,000 to be advertised through their website, through social media and through the Contracts Finder website. A minimum of three quotations must be secured and if the contract value is greater than £50,000 a full tender process must be followed. For contracts greater than £3,000 but less than £29,999 there is no requirement to advertise the requirement, but three written quotes must be secured. The authority does have a register of potential suppliers, but senior managers are not compelled to contact every supplier on the listing who can supply the services they require, only to ensure they have quotes from three suppliers.
Authority 2 has a published procurement policy that requires all contracts with a value in excess of £1,000 to be published on their website and through social media. For contracts valued at £10,000 or more, they must also be advertised through Contracts Finder. Additionally, staff are encouraged to actively seek out potential local suppliers and invite them to tender for contracts in accordance with the requirements of the particular activity.
Authority 1 manages to spend approximately 14% of its external spend budget with local suppliers (defined as those within the local authority wards). Authority 2 spends 39% of its external spend budget locally. Yes, there is slightly more work involved for Authority 2 as they generally have more quotations to evaluate, but their processes are open, transparent and actively encourage local businesses to trade with them.
So, do you know what your local authority policy on procurement is? And as a taxpayer, which approach would you prefer your local authority to take? Maybe you should check and make your feelings known, after all, if no one challenges existing practice, it probably won’t change!