Dear Suppliers, Thanks in Advance for 2017! – Your Procurement Office.
January 3, 2017
Let us face it, we all depend on suppliers. Procurement is stuck if no supplier is willing to deliver. But do we genuinely recognize this? Are we thankful enough for the hard job companies do to deliver various products, sophisticated services or construction works in the most remote corners of our planet?
While in private sector supplier relationship is something sacred and is maintained with due care and diligence, it is not quite the case in public procurement world. In public procurement, our colleagues approach buyer-supplier relationship with “I have the money, I should rule” attitude. Sometimes, keeping such attitude towards suppliers results into complaints to Procurement Ombudsman. A considerable percentage of those complaints is valid.
For public buyers, it is absolutely necessary to realize that vendors and purchasers work hard to deliver value to the society. No one rules in this game, everyone works for one common goal.
There are various reasons for such “dominating” attitude, but the main one is corruption risks. We all know public procurement world is full of corruption risks. An extra coffee with a supplier may be considered as bribery, an extra day given to deliver may be pictured as nepotism, slight change of the contract equals crime, etc. This is happening because (let us again face the fact) public procurement is probably the most corrupt public service in the world, yet the least recognized in its importance and role. On one hand we have governments and civil society blaming public procurement for all the corruption happening, on the other hand, public procurement officers, managing billions of dollars, are paid just like any other public servant.
A good portion of that blame may be reasonable, but does this mean public procurement folks should stop their interaction with suppliers? Is an extra cup of coffee a crime?
It is unfair to blame procurement officers for building their relationships with suppliers, unless we a) recognize procurement’s role in public life, b) compensate procurement officers for major budget savings they display, and c) fully equip procurement departments with all necessary e-procurement tools and mechanisms, so the interaction with suppliers becomes virtually zero.