Someone getting rich on the side
So whose pockets are being lined this time? Which friend of the cousin of the neighbour of so and so MP who they met down the pub?
Everyone's favourite outsourcing badass Capita is taking control of the £110m Turing student exchange programme formerly run by The British Council, a public corporation. Announced in 2020 by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the new Turing Scheme replaced the EU's Erasmus student exchange scheme, which the UK withdrew from as …
May be they should send some Christmas hampers/party gifts to No 10 for the vote of confidence in the company, and for continued partnership in helping the government dispose of large quantities of cash. A few rolls of wall paper would no doubt be gratefully received.
How do companies like Capita time and again fail to deliver on government contracts yet get more of them? Particularly when competing against an established and, as far as I can make out, successful incumbent? Oh, Hang on, the British Council sounds like a public body :
"The early 1930s were a time of global instability. Britain’s influence was weakened because of a global financial depression, which reduced living standards, jobs, and trade.
At the same time, extreme ideologies were gaining ground, with the rise of Communism in Russia, and Fascism in Germany, Italy and Spain.
The UK government created the British Council in response."*
So that explains it - crap commercial organisation: GOOD, efficient, well-liked public body: BAD.
As you were, nothing to see here, nothing at all.
"The rules - conveniently - don't allow past performance on other contracts to be taken into account"
I've heard this on multiple occasions. I'm sure other readers (and me) would welcome any definitve references.
[TLDR: Citation welcome :) ]
Even if past performance was allowed to be considered they'd probably just form sufficiently obsure trading entities to fool the "decision makers".
So, what's the answer then?
Public poor performance produces piss poor payments (at board level)?
The senior managers justify their megabonuses and other loadsamoney because "they are in very responsible roles". So presumably they're still responsible when things don't go as the customer might have hoped, right?
There's a reason there are no definitive references re: can't take past performance into account. It's bollocks
Here's the Government policy on how its done
I agree they should take it into account but generally they don't. Most UK government procurements preclude it because it exposes under-skilled commercial teams to unwanted risk of liability.
i.e. they remove a supplier bid based on past performance and they get sued.
And getting sued halts the procurement exercise.
Did you read the document you linked?
It is almost impossible to apply and leaves you open to challenge due to subjectivities.
I've worked in large scale procurement and it's incredibly hard to use bad past performance to exclude vendors. In particular, the assessment is always, IME, based only on what you receive as part of the process so you've to be super careful and clever if youre going to exclude on past failures.
Three pragmatic approaches I've used:
1) BEFORE you tender: bring the supplier in for repeated bollockings on basis of their current poor performance. Make it incredibly uncomfortable to be your supplier. Verbally, and as clearly as you dare, leave them in no doubt that if you seem pissed off now it's nothing to what you'll be like if they wander back in to sell you more. Make the individual agents of company believe that you'll hold it against them personally in future; even if they turn up representing a different company in the future.
2) Again, BEFORE you tender, get the supplier black listed because of their performance or because an investigation is ongoing. Hard, and might not stick when you actually launch tender, but good if it works.
3) Most by the book, but hard: Set up the assessment criteria to heavily weight what the bad supplier is bad at. Hope that they don't manage to spoof their way through it
Fundamentally, it's hard to punish your current suppliers for their failures in next tender. But it's almost impossible to punish them for failures serving other customers (e.g. for DfE to punish Capita because they made a balls of MoD contracts). Some of it is regs, but it's also the asymmetry. They know directly the scenario, you (e.g. in DfE) have indirect hearsay, and beyond that end up relying on the submissions of your vendors (read the linked doc!)
When I've intimidated/deterred a supplier to f*** off, it's only ever temporary. When/if they turn up again in 4 years they will explain that they've been on a big quality/improvement drive and are now so much better. And you have to give them a fair shot
> Has anyone told Private Eye about this? (I daren't look at it these days, it's too depressing)
I hear you on that. I am numb to it at this point, after many years, so haven't cancelled my subscription yet. (Though numb != not care, at least)
"Access to the procurement documents is restricted."
"II.2.5) Award criteria
Price is not the only award criterion and all criteria are stated only in the procurement documents"
So for all we know the tender might simply have said "If your name isn't Capita, you need not bother applying"
Couldn't possibly be that they think an organisation with experience of education around the world is better placed to support thousands of students living in a foreign country for the first time than a minimum wage call centre worker employed by a company that routinely under-performs almost as its mission statement.
Until not so long ago, Turing was barely known to the population at large. That he has achieved seriously belated posthumous fame is a tribute to the massive amount of work done by Andrew Hodges and the late Barry Cooper. I don't know who led the campaign to get him on the fifty pound note. That the miserable brexiters abuse his legacy does not detract from it.
Now there's an idea. Competitive tendering for placements. Highest bidders get best locations, lowest, a .50% discount at Canvey Island Poly. A wholly owned susidiary of Crapita Plc. Chancellor Sir Nicholas Soames welcomes all students, regardless of ability, even if they're not related to Churchill.
There are pages more...of C[r]apita failings/disasters/oversights