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IPA Council returns vote of no confidence in GPS

At its meeting on 12th September 2013, the IPA Council unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in the Government Procurement Service (GPS) to run the selection process for communications agencies to work on Government business.


The IPA has written to advise the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, The Rt Hon Francis Maude MP of its vote (letter attached) with a recommendation that a panel of its senior practitioners might work with the GPS to create procedures that avoid the pitfalls of earlier frameworks.

This vote comes after 13 months of dialogue with the GPS over Framework One (Creative Services) and Framework Two (Strategy and Planning) - and after significant problems with the e-auction process required for Framework Two.

“Even allowing for the Public Contracts Regulations, we have witnessed a rigid adherence by GPS to an unnecessarily complex and bureaucratic process over the last 13 months. The IPA Council therefore has no choice but to go public with its vote of no confidence in the hope that it may make a difference to how the Government Procurement Service organises its buying processes in the future," says IPA Director-General Paul Bainsfair.

Matters were brought to a head by the recent e-auction process applied to Framework Two which was plagued by problems as a result of which agencies had to keep teams of senior executives on stand-by for several days.

The IPA has consistently opposed these processes during which agencies engage in an online “reverse e-auction”, each cutting its price until no-one is prepared to go lower.

Says Bainsfair "Given agency cost structures, grinding rates down inevitably carries through to the time and quality of talent agencies can devote to the piece of business in question – which in turn has to be reflected in the work they are able to produce."

"Clients have a right to expect value for money, but to treat thought and creativity in the same way as buying nuts and bolts is to threaten the creative spark that can lift a workmanlike campaign into a highly effective one. “

"However, in the case of the GPS e-auction, there was an additional twist in that agencies were competing only for a place on the approved roster (vs committing to do a particular job) at a given price. “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.”

Last updated 18/09/2013

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