20 January 2009 | Rebecca Ellinor
The Identity and Passport Service will punish suppliers for bad behaviour, as well as poor performance.
In an exclusive interview with Supply Management, IPS commercial director Bill Crothers said: "If behaviour becomes undesirable or dysfunctional, you close the relationship."
He added that while it's not unusual for buyers and suppliers who partner to define good behaviour, making it contractual is new.
"If some party is not behaving as we wish then an extreme sanction we have is to terminate the relationship."
He said the IPS, which is responsible for issuing UK passports, ID cards and the National Identity Scheme, has agreed with companies on its framework panel what good conduct looks like in a 'partnering handbook'. Crothers said, while this was reasonably standard, making it compulsory is "quite novel".
"If you think about behaviours, they're quite subjective, so it took a lot of trust from them [the suppliers] to sign up. The reassurance we gave was that in assessing behaviours we would do it in a very open way. We'll write it down, we'll do it over a sustained period, so it's not just how you behave once, and behaviour will be judged by multiple people, not just one person."
Crothers said while this was an "asymmetrical sanction" - IPS can fire its suppliers, but vendors do not have the power to terminate a deal based on behaviour - he ensures he gets regular feedback from suppliers on the demeanour of staff.
In fact, he sacked an independent contractor working for IPS after suppliers complained.
"I got feedback that his behaviour had been poor towards the bidder in a three hour meeting and we removed him because it was unacceptable."