The dangers of inadequate procurement strategies has been highlighted by a Northern Ireland council, which has suffered reputational damage as a result of criticisms from the public services ombudsman that its sourcing of stewarding services amounted to “maladministration”.
The ombudsman found that Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council had failed to follow official procurement procedures at an event it hosted in 2016.
Andrew McQuillan brought his case to the ombudsman’s attention after he was initially told that his company was ineligible to bid for the aforementioned contract to deliver stewarding services for Armed Forces Day, but was subsequently informed that the reason he had been discounted from bidding was that the contract had in fact already been offered to a different company.
Upon investigating, the ombudsman reached the verdict that before awarding the contract, the council should have acquired quotes from both Mr Quillan’s firm and his competitor (referred to in the report as ‘Company A’). Failure to do so amounted to maladministration, the ombudsman concluded.
The council’s events assistant also came under fire by the ombudsman not only for failing to disclose the local authority’s previous association with Company A but for advising it to keep its quote below procurement thresholds.
The report concludes: “I am satisfied that the maladministration I identified caused the complainant to experience the injustice of a loss of opportunity to have his proposal considered by the council. “He also experienced the injustice of frustration and uncertainty and outrage based on his belief that the council’s procurement in this case was improper.”
The council has responded by saying it is preparing to implement the report’s recommendations, but it seems that it would benefit from input from independent providers of procurement as a service to ensure that such glaring blunders are not repeated.
Steve has over 28 years of success as CPO, MD and Procurement BPO leader in a range of industries. Steve is COO at Odesma, responsible for Odesma’s delivery capability & infrastructure.