G4S failure was not a 'heart-stopper' says Olympic procurement chief

5 October 2012

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5 October 2012 | Adam Leach

The failure of security contractor G4S to deliver the required number of guards for the 2012 Olympics caused no sleepless nights or hearts to stop at LOCOG as they knew plan B was in place.

Giving the final presentation at yesterday’s CIPS Annual Conference 2012, LOCOG procurement director Gerry Walsh told the audience the announcement from G4S it wouldn’t be able to provide enough guards less than a month before the Games started was not a particular cause for concern.

In response to a question from the audience, he said: “I can assure you G4S was not a heart stopping moment because [security for the games] was an example where a plan was already in place. When that happened, the very same day we announced our back-up plan, so no, I didn’t lose any sleep over it.”

He added across the Games there were no alarming moments from a procurement perspective, because all the potential glitches had been identified and ironed out during the test events.

Walsh, who this year won the ‘procurement professional of the year' prize at the CIPS Supply Management Awards, came out of retirement to take on what he described as his ‘dream job’ of heading up procurement at LOCOG.

He explained when he finishes the role in December, he will probably return to retirement. “I have no idea what on earth would tempt me to not just go straight back to retirement. Never say never, but I think it will be difficult,” he said.

Having spoken with some of his former procurement colleagues from the Games, he said many were finding it difficult to return to ‘normal’ work: “Talking to some of the guys that now gone back to work, some at their previous employers, I think they find it tough, because the buzz, the rush every day and the atmosphere is pretty unique.”

Concluding his presentation, Walsh paraphrased LOCOG chairmain Lord Coe’s assessment of the staging of the London 2012 Olympic Games, saying: “Procurement did it right.”

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