09 February, 2011
Landmines, assault rifles and helicopters - it sounds like a shopping list for a Vin Diesel film but it's just a regular couple of weeks in the world of procurement.
The demining charity the Halo Trust challenged a contract awarded under a framework of which Halo was one of three members. The government awarded Halo the work for Mozambique but not Cambodia. Halo argued that the way in which contractors were selected under the framework for individual contracts was unfair and inconsistent. The court disagreed and on many points said that Halo was trying to challenge government policy overall in linking demining with development objectives rather than raising a real procurement challenge. Similarly to the Scottish Court of Session in the Sidey case the court in Halo Trust said that public law challenges should go through the judicial review process.
The National Policing Improvement Agency has attracted criticism for allegedly using up its budget by hurriedly ordering over £300,000 worth of rifles and sights when a purchase of that value should have gone out to tender. Procurement takes time to do properly and the necessary procedures can be accelerated in some cases of urgency.
Finally, the government has announced the abandonment of the procurement process for the privatisation of the search and rescue helicopter service because information about the assessment of other tenders got out to one of the bidders. The tender might be re-run and if it is we get to see how TUPE applies to the royal family as HRH Prince William will be among the national assets handed over to the private sector.
Contracting authorities beware: especially with the new range of remedies, disappointed bidders are locked, loaded and waiting for the chance.