I write tenders & oversee tender evaluations for an Australian govt body – and I’ve always included criteria around “innovative” business processes & systems. Sadly the responses to these questions are usually very disappointing and just offer up the industry standard fare…
I don’t think that a supplier having a competitive advantage contradicts the concept of a fair and level playing field – it is almost a silly comment to my mind. Just because it is a govt tender it doesn’t mean we are looking for mediocrity and / or uniformity. I for one would love to see a tender response that made me say ‘wow’… still waiting…
Okay, so based on the tremendous response to yesterday’s post re public sector RFPs, I am postponing the FOSS theme to next week and focusing instead this week on the government tendering process.
For example, the above referenced response by Veronica Whitmore in the IACCM Group Forum on LinkedIn was interesting on so many levels that it led me to make the following statement:
Well said Veronica . . . yet rules and legislation seems to contradict the best value logic as discussed in this roundtable which featured IACCMs Tim Cummins: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/jon-hansen/2010/04/27/live-event-feed-3rd-annual-business-of-government-summit-day-1-roundtable. (NOTE: refer to the overview of the roundtable discussion including participants, at the conclusion of this post):
By the way, do you think that the standard fare responses are the result of a lack of supplier imagination, or government conditioning . . . re suppliers providing the answers based on how the RFP is structured?
There are of course many factors which influence supplier response to a government RFP including how well it is written (a point that was adeptly raised by Karen Evans, the former CIO for the US Federal Government during the roundtable), legislation and related policy, as well as other factors such as economic conditions and lingering vendor cynicism.
Perhaps even more interesting of a question is to what degree does the hide-your-head-in-the-sand mindset of some senior government bureaucrats perpetuate diminished value decision-making including vendor selection. One example that immediately comes to mind (and one which I have frequently cited) relates to a comment made by a senior Treasury Board executive with the Government of Canada. Specifically, when it was suggested that their selection of a vendor for a particular RFP was unlikely to produce the expected savings, this individual made the statement “you may be right but, we followed procedures in terms of the tendering process and that is what is important.”
In short, citing policy compliance or referencing procedural adherence does not necessarily reflect what actually happens in the real world, nor does it indicate that a best-value outcome is being achieved. Certainly these were the sentiments expressed by Colin Cram during the aforementioned roundtable broadcast.
What are your thoughts?
In my keynote address “Contracting To Win: Buyer and Seller Responsibilities in 21st Century Government Procurement” this morning I made the statement that “transparency is not holding fast to the illusion of a level playing field, but to a clear understanding of the layout of the field itself.”
To expand on this concept of transparency further, I will refer to a comment that was made by Washington-based expert author Judy Bradt who, as I will mention in her introductory bio has helped more than 6,000 clients win in excess of $300 million US in government contracts, during Part 3 of our 7-Part “Seven Steps to Success: Jump Start Government Contracts” Series on Blog Talk Radio. Specifically, Judy’s point that “the process for winning government contracts is truly based on the ability of a supplier to legitimately and transparently win preference with government buyers.”
Joining me in this probing 60-minute segment on what transparency really means in the realms of public sector or government procurement is a guest panel of experts whose experience, expertise and insights will shed some much needed light on a subject that has often eluded a practical, real-world definition.
Moderator: Jon Hansen (The PI Social Media Network)
Panelists: Tim Cummins (CEO, IACCM), Judy Bradt (Summit Insights), Colin Cram (Marc1 Ltd, Towards Tesco author) and Karen Evans (former CIO, United States Government)