IPA has 'no confidence' in GPS to select suppliers

18 September 2013

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19 September 2013 | Will Green

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) has passed a vote of no confidence in the ability of the Government Procurement Service (GPS) to run supplier selection processes. 

The IPA, which represents communications agencies bidding for government work, said its members had suffered “extremely poor experiences” when competing to get onto a roster of approved suppliers.

Director general Paul Bainsfair - in a letter to Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude - said: “While we have no doubt that the GPS is staffed by hard-working and well-meaning individuals doing their best in the circumstances, our members have been appalled by the organisation’s rigid adherence to what strikes us as unnecessary and onerous bureaucracy.

“To address these issues going forward, the secretariat would therefore like to suggest that a panel of senior IPA representatives works with the GPS to develop an improved approach. The present system benefits no one. It ties our members up in needless red tape, it swamps the GPS and renders its selection process haphazard and chaotic, it creates enormous frustrations in the departments the GPS is meant to be serving, and worst of all it represents terrible value for money for the taxpayer.”

The IPA said the problems have been going on for 13 months and concern two frameworks, the first covering creative services and the second strategy and planning.

The organisation was particularly critical of a “reverse e-auction” used in the second framework, where agencies compete to get onto an approved roster by submitting lower and lower bids.

Bainsfair said: “This could potentially mean that the e-auction process could result in a final selection of agencies whose prices are so low that it becomes unattractive for them to bid for any work from government departments that is either not very large or that will not add to their agency profile.”

The Cabinet Office said officials would be meeting with the IPA, while the terms of the e-auction had been altered in response to concerns. 

“Every government relationship with a supplier should be achieving the best value for taxpayers, balancing quality with price. Marketing and communications are no different,” said a spokesman.

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