The Victorian Government Purchasing Board’s Guide to Probity cites the allocation of appropriate capability to elements of the procurement processes as one of the seven probity principles.
In our experience as probity advisors, all too often, we see instances where procurements have gone awry due to inadequate capability,
What does ‘allocating appropriate capability’ mean?
Allocating appropriate capability is about making sure you have the right people with the right knowledge and skills involved in your procurement.
For very large construction projects, for example, this may involve using a vast array of expertise such as project managers, architects, OH&S experts, financial experts or legal advisors. For smaller projects, it may be as simple as ensuring that you have procurement expertise involved in a process.
ICT procurements can bring a novel set of problems with a need to meet requirements, for often non-technical end-users, as well as other requirements for the back-end in order to fit within existing or planned infrastructure.
ICT procurements are particularly vulnerable to the concept of ‘situational incompetence.’ Darryl Carlton explained this in The Mandarin:
‘Situational Incompetence’ applies when an otherwise experienced executive is placed in a position of authority or accountability for which they lack experience, training or specific skills. In this new role, they are effectively incompetent and incapable of providing or recognising reasoned advice, guidance or suggestions.’
With this in mind, it is critical to ensure that you recognise the need to ‘bring in the experts’ when the need arises.
So how do we make sure we have ‘appropriate capability’?
Generally, it is all in the planning – and the more technical, high value and/or high risk a procurement is, the more planning and thought should be put into it. Some key things to consider in your planning are:
- Market scanning: Engaging external expertise (or using internal expertise, where available) to conduct a market scan in advance of a procurement may assist in determining budget and scope of works
- In-house expertise: Identify individuals in your organisation early who have the skills and expertise you need and make sure they are available when they will be required for your process.
- External expertise: Where gaps have been identified, bring in external expertise. It is much better to have trusted advice than to wing it and hope for the best.
- Avoid shortcuts: Rushing or taking shortcuts, particularly for highly technical procurements, may result in things being over-looked and may ultimately impact on project delivery and costs post-contract award.
- Project Sponsor: Involve the Project Sponsor in the process as early as possible and support him/her with your team of experts, particularly at key decision points.
From time to time, we see procurement processes where a lack of capability is identified mid-way. It is never too late to bring in expertise (internal or external) during your procurement. Indeed, it is preferable to get the advice you need during the procurement than to push on with awarding a contract and having issues later.
And finally, having probity oversight of a process can assist you in ensuring that you have access to independent advice when the need arises.
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CourtHeath Consulting provides services to government and not-for-profit organisations.
Our probity audit and advisory services help clients meet government probity standards especially regarding conflict of interest, confidentiality, ethical conduct and corruption risks.
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IMAGE: Used under licence from shutterstock.com
Written by Julia Cornwell-McKean
[category courtheath's blog]
probity, procurement, Victoria