The other day I posed a question in a number of LinkedIn groups based on a post by Ian Burdon (Risk Aversion, Bad faith and Scams , November 13th, 2013).
The question was fairly straight forward; Should governments be compelled to re-tender contracts if the incumbent supplier is doing a good job? (refer to today’s post title).
So far the responses have been quite interesting, although one in particular stood out.
Barry Walker who is now retired from the Department of National Defence wrote:
In the past, I have re-tendered support contracts when they expired. Each time, only the incumbent supplier answered the RFP, and I really had to wonder why I had gone through the lengthy process and why I had expended internal resources that could have been put to better use. In one instance, the existing contract had to be extended twice to allow the RFP to make its tortuous passage through PWGSC. Perhaps an internal review of contractor performance, coupled with an quick reference to industry to see if another supplier is interested in providing the service, is needed before deciding on a full RFP or an expedited contract renewal.
What I appreciated as both a procurement professional as well as a taxpayer was Walker’s suggestion that “an internal review of contractor performance, coupled with an quick reference to industry to see if another supplier is interested in providing the service, is needed before deciding on a full RFP or an expedited contract renewal.”
In reading the above, I cannot help but wonder why there continues to be this compulsion on the part of the government – regardless of the value being delivered by the incumbent supplier – to arbitrarily retender contracts based on a set period of time?
To me, and this is taking the premise of Walker’s comment to the next level, it would make far more sense to utilize a relational model such as the one that was originally developed and successfully implemented by Andy Akrouche in both the public and private sectors, to continually and progressively monitor and manage vendor performance and capability within an existing relationship. Only under circumstances where it is determined that the existing vendor is not delivering the best value, that an RFP process would commence.
In his new book Relationships First: The New Relationship Paradigm in Contracting, Akrouche talks about the creation of a Relationship Charter that would serve such a purpose. The “Charter” as he explains it, would enable stakeholders to establish both the trust and resulting transparency that is necessary for ongoing success. And let’s face it, with the vast majority of complex acquisitions failing to deliver to expectations, it is time that we accept the fact that the present tendering system doesn’t work.
What are your thoughts? Should the government look at forming relationships or continue down the transactional path associated with a current process that repeatedly misses the mark?