What’s in a name?

12 July 2011
Saint Homobonus, patron saint of procurementI was intrigued and delighted to receive a copy of a new book this month from a mysterious reader under the nom de plume “C Emptor”. Mr/Ms Emptor is the author of The Buying Game (What Purchasing Text Books Don’t Tell You), which describes itself as a “survival aid” of how buyers operate in the “murky modern world of procurement”. It charts a 40-year career in buying, “from storeman to catman”, and includes anecdotes such as: “I used to have to sign all the administration purchase orders for the head office. This could entail 20 to 40 orders per day. So I started to change my name and had at some stage all orders signed as Adolf Hitler. I never got a challenge on this.” If you fancy something a little different than an airport potboiler to read on the beach, copies can be purchased by emailing chatterbox999@talktalk.net   False hopes for the future A survey undertaken by travel tech firm Concur found 22.1 per cent of UK public sector employees had submitted a false claim, compared to 19.1 per cent in the private sector. Also, 7.7 per cent of public servants said “they do it all the time” (perhaps they were canvassing a group of MPs?) when asked how regularly. In the interest of balance, 4.5 per cent of corporate staff said the same. Even cheekier were the 1.2 per cent of civil servants who replied they hadn’t lied about a claim, “but will in the future”. That’s your tax revenue at work, dear readers. State sanctioned Porsches Over in the US, gadget website Gizmodo recently examined government spending on electronics over the past 10 years. Since June 2001, there has been $117 million spent on BlackBerrys, $10.8 million on iPods, $6.5 million on iPads and iPhones and $1.6 million on video games consoles. The army even spent more than $12,000 on Microsoft’s ill-fated Zune. Don’t worry, it’s all in the line of good governance – the Playstations and Xboxes are bought for airbases and wounded veterans. However, it also revealed someone at the State Department in Budapest had spent $50,000 on a Porsche. That’s your tax revenue at work, dear readers.   Stiff opposition to US card clean-up It’s refreshing to see that there is at least one politician in the US who is doing his best to tackle flagrant waste. In Louisiana, Democrat Sam Jones recently sponsored a bill that aimed to stop public officials being able to purchase, ahem, “adult entertainment” with public money. The intention was to stop government staff using procurement cards to buy pay-per-view movies or at strip clubs. However, the legislation has strangely been stopped in its tracks... So, the purchasing can continue. That’s your tax revenue... well, you surely get the idea by now, dear readers.   If a job’s worth doing... Attracting talent continues to be a challenge for CPOs, so it helps to let candidates know what they might be in for. A job posted on LinkedIn last month perhaps goes a little further than most. Under the list of desired skills and experience, the advert asks for “extensive experience sourcing from low cost countries, and from high trade barrier, low labour and material cost regimes with ‘quirky’ political systems”. Better review that guidance on the Bribery Act before you apply.   Fat cows cause a chain reaction With commodity prices on the rise, buyers have seen many suppliers trying to take advantage. Farmers are no exception.According to a new report, the desire to quite literally beef-up their cows is causing problems in the supply chain. The average weight per cow is up 20 kilos on last year, and this is causing extra cost and delays. Not only is it a logistical problem (you can’t get as many cows on the truck to the abbatoir), but extra people are having to be employed to cut off the fat. “They are chasing weight, but creating fat,” said one expert. Tweet of the month @gmeltdown - Stupidity is when corrupt people in a procurement process fake quotations from a fictitious company with obviously unprobable names. ——- ☛ You can follow me on Twitter too – @sainthomobonus
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