Our IT supplier wanted £90 for a GPS dongle I can get off Amazon for £15. Anything like this has failure written all over it.
The Home Office's ruling that police buy commodity hardware and software from a single supplier framework instead of a multi-reseller agreement continues to attract biting criticism from side-lined suppliers. Following the imposition of benchmarks to determine best value for money, forces in England and Wales were mandated in …
A sample purchase indicated Sprint ii was £7,700 more expensive than existing contracts, for the same items," it stated
One sample is not even mentioning and could easily be rigged.
I wait for the comparisions, "I bought something from M&S that was 10% cheaper than Aldi, therefore M&S is 10% cheaper than Aldi...."
whilst one sample is statistically irrelevant, it does depend what they were checking.
To use your analogy, if tomatoes are 10% cheaper at M&S and I mostly buy tomatoes then it makes sense to purchase them from the cheaper supplier.
It's kinda the point in using multiple suppliers, you get what you need from whoever is cheapest at the time you need it. If that £7700 saving relates to a purchase that's made regularly then only an idiot would buy it from the more expensive supplier (assuming all other variables are the same).
The issue you highlight with the sample used is the same issue that plagues the system - one size never fits all. I might save £1000's by using a particular supplier for my needs, whilst you find they cost £1000's more for yours.
Central procurement is a good idea for a variety of reasons, but generally saving money isn't one of them
Any public sector procurement is a scam since the use of 'approved' suppliers pretty much guarantees that only the most expensive companies are used.
What is of more value is trying to leverage the collective spending power of all the home office police forces together to negotiate a hefty discount for hardware and service and fit for purpose Bespoke software.
But that'll never happen.
I found this to be true a few years ago, when the US Postal Service went to mandatory suppliers for office supplies and maintenance (restroom and lunchroom) supplies. Nearly everything I had been purchasing from local vendors was 10-20% more expensive when buying from the national contract suppliers... I'm fairly sure somebody at USPS HQ got a nice Christmas present that year from the contractors... placed in their offshore unnumbered account. I didn't have the authority to buy much in the way of IT kit at my level, but what little I could buy was also more expensive, plus required two additional levels of approval besides the Postmaster and the District Manager...
If all that SCC do is provide a Police IT version of Amazon and fulfilment, then you would expect the corporate discount pricing they provide normally, however as soon as you wrap other services around it, such as a PC with Installation and three years support, then you are in a whole other game. If SCC are running a brokerage service, then they will charge a standard transaction charge for the additional effort, on top of their normal charges.
Remember, if you buy a £15 dongle from Amazon, for your organisation, the Organisation pays £15 for the dongle, plus your time spent finding it and expensing it, plus the processing time for your expenses. If you fill in a purchase requisition, then you have the internal costs for that. Whichever way you look at it, your £15 dongle will not cost the company £15.
The aim of such contracts is to reduce the total purchase costs, not just the item buy price. To do this, there might be an agreed margin on all items, or a transaction price. Procurement gets to lower its headcount, and the additional purchase costs go on to user departments. The real winner being the procurement department manager who has slashed his budget and headcount.
and more specifically for the NPIA and related accounts... I remember the hardware margin was tiny (under 3%) but they were packaging it with whopping 40-60% margin consultancy for installs, integration, testing, etc.... but of course this was lumped in under the endearing title of "services"
Value for SCC, definitely.
Value for the taxpayer, unlikely...
"We want police forces to save money by not seeking competitive bids"
Someone somewhere has got a big fat finger in a big juicy pie. Every taxpayer can see him, but he's smirking back while the gov pats him on the back: "Your idea of eliminating competitive bidding? Splendid! Say, this pie looks yummy."
There's a story I hard a few years ago, set in the USA.
Their Army wanted a supply of chocolate chip cookies. Obviously, that's a huge contract, direct with a large corporate manufacturer.
Initially, they were ordering in much the same way as a supermarket, such as Wal-Mart or Tesco does, taking the branded product.
The company changed the recipe, supplying a lower-quality product at the same price. Maybe it was fewer chocolate chips, or smaller ones.
The contract was adjusted to specify a minimum quantity of chocolate chips.
After a few repeats of this sort of cycle, the contract is a very detailed specification, and soldiers are saying the choc chip cookies in the PX are far better than the ones in Wal-Mart.
I'm not sure what shenanigans might happen in Police IT procurement, but I've seen how the physical quality of some stuff in PC World has changed.
"Any suppliers holding out hopes for a change in direction in the short term should not hold their breath. Cairney said that the National Policing Improvement Agency continued to benchmark Sprint ii, which would "definitely" take a year before it could draw down further meaningful data"
We want those whinging suppliers to go bust so they won't be around in a year to complain
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