Corruption and dealing with corruption

Corruption and dealing with corruption

The OED defines corruption as:

  1. The destruction or spoiling of anything, especially by disintegration or decomposition; putrefaction
  2. Infection, infected condition; also figuratively contagion , taint
  3. Decomposed or putrid matter
  4. A making or becoming morally corrupt; the fact or condition of being corrupt; moral deterioration; depravity
  5. Evil nature
  6. The perversion of integrity by bribery or favour; the use or existence of corrupt practices
  7. The perversion of anything from an original state or purity

We are particularly concerned with “6, the perversion of integrity by bribery or favour”.

In England we, the people, have been struggling for a thousand years years to control and constrain the power of the conquerors and their leaders. We put into place government by people who saw it as their civic duty to help organise and support for the weaker members of their community.

The heart of the moral structure of the community was the integrity of the individuals, where integrity means soundness of moral principle,the character of uncorrupted virtue; uprightness, honesty, sincerity.

When people arrived in positions of power they saw that it was their responsibility to fulfil their tasks, in whatever their position in government, local government, business, education, without fear or favour.

Over the centuries there have been many many instances where where people have been bribed or have been the briber and where it is discovered the penalty is heavy with fines and imprisonment. Most recently the Chinese arrest them and have them shot.

Regrettably we have established some ‘legal’ bribery and corrupt practices for example Sect 106 Planning Arrangements which means a developer will receive a better hearing if he gives something to the betterment of the community whether a swimming pool or an allocation of ‘affordable housing’. The Local Authorities are supposed to do this from the Council Tax collected rather than accepting corporate bribes.

In the Royal Navy, which we own, where we pay the sailors and all upkeep, when it comes to helping our ships and yachts in distress the captain and crew claim salvage for their own personal benefit and they boast about how much they get.

Then we come to Members of Parliament voting in the House of Commons, where they vote in accordance with their whips’ requirements in order to achieve ‘favour’ for promotion or even to keep their membership of their political party and therefore their job. It’s a problem that only arose when a (fairly recent) government decided that being an MP was a job rather than a civic responsibility. By their action they destroyed the integrity we demanded from MPs.

The current international uproar is about, allegedly, two individuals being willing to place their vote in favour of the team who are prepared to pay for a new football stadium for them, admittedly one was for payment to his personal bank account.

Many countries of the world are really still ‘lawless’ as the laws are not rigidly enforced on everyone equally and as there can be wholesale changes of law and ownership following a military or tribal takeover. This means that there is no security of tenure whether of your house, your job or your position or rank in society. In those circumstances it is easy to understand why people would build personal wealth at the expense of the community as a whole.

The latest UK corruption legislation is a stick to beat business with because, as I understand it, it applies not only to your business but also to that of your partners, your agents and your sub-contractors and all their employees, wherever they are based. Until all societies change and this type of law can be enacted globally, it cannot be fairly implemented and if implemented harshly will just drive international companies out of the UK.

So how might we be able to change the global culture in relation to bribery?

I think a core problem is the jealousy that is engendered so that the statement “ I’d like a job where I can be bribed for a million dollars” becomes “How do I get a job where I can be bribed for a million dollars.”

It could arise just from falsifying or misrepresenting scientific data eg for the preferred location for a new dam or a new road or a new drug; or to maintain your research funding stream; or even to influence travel options; or in misrepresenting security and terrorist threats.

How can we persuade people that democratic power is to be used for the benefit of all the people generally rather than for personal wealth accumulation or personal aggrandisement.

I wonder what is the most important recognition to show how good their country or city is? I wonder if it’s being chosen for the global spot-light together with the money that flows from that. So it could be for motor racing, the Olympics, football competitions, the commonwealth games, the arts etc. Therefore that would be where to hit them.

We need to create public embarrassment in place of public acclaim.

We could just deny the selection of their country for any world event, let’s say for ten years, if any one of their citizens accepts or makes a bribe relating to any international activity. Naturally their citizens would still be able to compete.

WE just need all the sports associations to agree!!

BUT

The only people who can be bribed are by definition the ones who have power. Where does this power come from? In a corrupt society it’s either given in exchange for other favours or it’s taken by force or it’s inherited from predecessors. It comes from a toxic mixture of people who take power be it at a corporate, local, national or international level, mixed with the inertia of average people who just want to be left to get on with their life. In many cases in order to get that power they have to promise favours, invade, rebel, steal, kill, take by force. But the heart of that power is to control the land, normally by force or by ancient laws, because the land and the workers on it produce income or they mine the resources to produce income, or they fish the surrounding waters to produce income, or the powers collect a tax on every transaction related to the use of that land.

Everything else is minor in relation to that power, the power of land-ownership. It defines the ‘HAVES’ and by default it also defines the ‘HAVE-NOTS’.

To a large extent the easiest way to progress faster than your neighbour is to take a bribe. The only benefit of paying a bribe is that you expect to make more money and you can make that money back and more. The soul-destroying part is to have to conduct yourself in a manner which at heart you detest and which destroys your integrity.

That in turn lays you open to more corruption.

Keywords: corruption

Future Britain – Council procurement procedures

Future Britain – Council procurement procedures

 

Altogether it’s a very poor deal for the council tax payers AND for our local businesses.

I finally understand where it all goes wrong in procurement.

There’s a professional procurement team who are disciplined to follow the guidelines……. Precisely and totally. They are disliked by their ‘client’ departments in the council for ‘interfering.’

They negotiate contracts and their job is to get Best Value. So what’s the problem?

The core problems are:

– they are over-worked so to minimise the amount of work the procurement team want contracts, specifically contracts for supplies or maintenance, that last for a long time say 3 years. As a result the calculation of the value of a contract for £1,000 per month is £36,000. The contract can be cancelled at three months notice, so calculated on that basis the contract risk is only for £3,000.

If the contract was cancellable at one months notice then the risk is only £1,000.

Certainly the annual value is only £12,000.

This ‘value’ is critical as the procurement team have specific ways of working dependent of whether the contract is for less than £5000; upto £20,000; upto £40,000; upto £135,000 and over £135,000.

If the contract value is calculated on the minimum risk basis then in the example chosen the requirements for bidding change dramatically and are much less onerous because the contract is for £1,000 rather than £36,000.

– In preparing to bid companies are required to complete a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire. The procurement team are only interested in bids where the bid represents less than 25% of the company turnover, subject to a minimum turnover of £50,000.

On the contract value calculation above of £36,000 then the turnover needs to be £144,000 whereas on the lesser risk value of one month’s notice the turnover needs to be only £4,000.

AND why have a minimum turnover of £50,000.

– In completing the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire the procurement team specify that the bidding company provide ‘audited accounts’. By law small companies with a turnover of less than £5,600,000 do not need to have their accounts audited, so the procurement team automatically exclude most small companies or worse still the small companies automatically exclude themselves.

(The procurement team started by saying this was the only document required, though later they changed to say “There’s a briefing letter which requires the relevant documents to be attached to the PQQ.” These documents include the accounts together with the ‘Policy Documents’. I know one organisation where there are three hundred and twenty Policies!)

– The procurement team also said they would give preference to companies providing one invoice per week for all their services. I don’t see how this would reduce or simplify their work as there will still the same no. of item lines to be checked and approved. In fact it’ll be more likely that the invoice will contain an item to be challenged and therefore more likely for payment to be deferred. I think they should be giving preference to companies providing their invoices electronically.

– Because the procurement exercise is divorced from the ‘client’ department and because the contract is “in force” for say 36 months, the operation and control of the contract is outside the client department’s remit, whereas on a ‘one month notice’ contract calculation the contract could be handled by themselves and the supplier terminated almost immediately if the service, quality or price is poor.

In total because the contract is awarded for 36 months the supplier has no pressure to deliver quality goods and service to a good price every month, worse still there is no easy control by the client department to ensure that they do; and small local companies are automatically excluded from the business opportunities with their own council for services in their area.

Altogether it’s a very poor deal for the council tax payers AND for our local businesses.

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