I don’t think anyone would challenge the view that professional bodies have an important role to play in building
public confidence in the ethical conduct of
their members – you just have to see the job advertisements requiring MCIPS, for example, as the standard for excellence. Once lost, public confidence can be hard to regain.
Professional integrity is at the heart of what we stand for in procurement and supply, but it’s not something we can take for granted. All CIPS members are required to sign up to our Code of Conduct as a condition of registration and are held to account via a disciplinary process authorised by our charter. But once on the register, members aren’t asked to renew their commitment. If the purpose of the code is to influence how CIPS members conduct themselves throughout their professional life, we have to make it more visible than that.
So, how do we make sure that members keep the code in mind? First, we have to ensure the code is based on strong principles, is relevant to all sectors of the membership and has no omissions or ambiguities – in other words, that the
content is right. Second, we have to raise awareness and make the code more accessible. And finally, we need to ensure members understand the consequences if they fail to behave professionally.
The CIPS board of trustees has signed off an updated version of the code, which has several new features. Chief of these is the focus on four high-level precepts to promote the code to internal and external audiences. These are to:
- Enhance and protect the profession’s standing.
- Maintain the highest standard of integrity in all business relationships.
- Enhance the proficiency and stature of
- Ensure full compliance with regulations.
The code has been extended to address the reputational impact of unprofessional conduct by imposing sanctions for bringing CIPS or the profession into disrepute. We are also giving the code more teeth. Members will have a duty of disclosure if they are convicted of fraud, for example, and we plan to publish the outcomes of disciplinary hearings. One immediate change, though, will come with your membership renewal. You’ll be reminded that by renewing your membership you are re-committing your agreement to be bound
by the code.
The updated code can be found on the CIPS website
On an electoral roll
In his second annual report as government lead non-executive, Lord Browne is right to say
that world-class skills (in procurement project delivery, for example) are going to be crucial if the government is going to tackle the challenges facing public-sector procurement.
Highly skilled procurement and supply management staff are key to delivering the cost savings and true value across the supply chain the government is looking for. Bringing in outside expertise is sometimes necessary to encourage innovative solutions to problems that have dogged the UK for so long.
As the Public Administration Select Committee inquiry comes to an end, I was disappointed to hear the evidence from cabinet office minister Francis Maude, which portrays government procurement as a narrowly focused and technical activity sandwiched between developing an understanding of supply markets and contract management. This is about value, shaping markets, creating new enterprises, stimulating growth and finding sustainable ways to reduce the deficit.
With the right skills, trained professionals who are given authority and are valued for the contribution they bring will instigate the reform and cultural change so badly needed.