Procurement
May 7, 2012

Are you FAT enough?

Anyone who has been told by a doctor to lose weight has undoubtedly been introduced to the body mass index (BMI), a quick and simple measure to help determine if you are in the healthy or not so healthy zone. Just as weight plays a vital role in determining your personal health, so public procurement plays a vital role in determining the overall health of a government’s financial well-being.

Not only does public procurement need to deliver on its financial responsibilities, it also has to deliver on its policy responsibilities to ensure fairness, openness and transparency. And while there are a lot of “prescriptions” and checklists for what that entails, there is currently no procurement BMI that will tell you whether your organization is in the “healthy zone” when it comes to this key policy deliverable. Until now.

We have created the FAT index, an easy-to-use health metric to show whether your agency has delivered on Fairness, Accessibility and Transparency (FAT) policy requirements. It looks at these three critical areas and gives you a quick score that will help determine if your organization is in an acceptable range.

If your score is lower than you would like, the advice is simple: talk to your procurement manager. Listen to what he or she tells you. Often there are simple steps that can be taken to produce quick improvements at little cost. And there are numerous sources of best practices.

We all know that individual health management is more than stepping away from the buffet and counting calories. You have to look at the nutrients you’re taking in, your blood pressure, your cholesterol. Likewise, in procurement, good organizational health is more than a matter of counting the shekels. Taking shortcuts with process holds hidden hazards that can be costly to your organization down the road.

The key to achieving a healthy FAT score is to ensure you are documenting your work and following best practices. If you need to improve, keep working at it. If you are doing well, give yourself a pat on the back. All of us benefit when public organizations achieve maximum FAT-ness.

What’s your FAT score?

Key Indicator: Fairness

Fairness is defined as “treating people equally without favoritism or discrimination. In public procurement, fair means that a qualified vendor using only the information in the RFP can prepare a proposal that is capable of winning the competition.

Score 1 point for each Yes, 0 for each No

  • Specifications do not unduly restrict competition.
  • The RFP provides the budget or solid indicators of the scope of the project so that vendors can estimate the budget.
  • The evaluation committee’s behaviour is governed by strict rules and signed agreements that provide confidentiality for the process and ensure that evaluators do not have conflicts of interest.
  • The evaluation process reflects best RFP practices such as full disclosure of related studies and information; and full disclosure of all information from external sources included in the RFP.
  • The RFP includes a description of the evaluation process, the evaluation factors, and the weight assigned to each factor.
  • Active involvement of a qualified, experienced and ethical procurement officer in each RFP as the chair of the evaluation committee; use of a fairness officer in high risk, high visibility politicized procurements.

Key Indicator: Accessibility

Accessibility means being open to all competitors, not putting restrictions on those allowed to participate. This means the opportunity to compete is public knowledge and the details of the competition are easily obtained at little cost.

Score 1 point for each Yes, 0 for each No

  • New procurement opportunities are posted on a widely used e-tendering system available at no cost to the vendor community.
  • The deadline for submitting proposals allows all to participate.
  • Questions and answers from and to the proponents are posted on the e-tendering site in a timely manner.
  • Vendor meetings, if held, are announced in the RFP and webcast with a copy of the file publicly available.
  • The RFP recognizes that competition from small businesses is valuable and takes steps to encourage their participation in the process: e.g., vendor development programs, availability of paper documents, webcasts to reduce travel requirements.

Key Indicator: Transparency

Transparency is defined as being open to public scrutiny. This means providing documentation to proponents and other stakeholders as the key aspects of the process unfold, especially the evaluation.

Score 1 point for each Yes, 0 for each No

  • A policy that identifies which events must be documented and the information to be included in the written determination related to each major decision such as the reasons for disqualifying a vendor or the elimination of a proposal part way through the evaluation process.
  • Release of pre-selected information to all vendors once the contract has been signed without an application under the access-to-information law. For example, the summary of the scores and the list of proposals received.
  • Use of an evaluation guide: not just general instructions to the evaluators but a workbook on how to perform the evaluation. This guide is available to the public online.
  • A standard checklist of documents that must be used/collected during an RFP process and archived/retained in the project file at end of the project. This checklist is available to the public to guide their requests under access-to-information laws.
  • Standard release of the recommendation summary, which includes a comparison of proposals, summary of scores and pricing.

 

SCORING

0-6Unhealthy: Action required

7-10Healthy Range: Not unhealthy, but could improve

11-16Optimum Health: Where you should be

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