Let’s help the public sector design better tender processes

I have just hauled myself out of the torpor-inducing task of writing two public-sector tenders (see the debate on this page, DW 3 December 2009 and DW 7 January, as well as Adrian Shaughnessy’s case for better procurement in his Private View, DW 7 January).

As it stands, procurement is maddening and stultifying by turns. It shackles clients to the nonsensical process of evaluating the wrong questions. Its numbers-orientation locks out skilled, experienced and operationally capable consultancies on the basis of size. And it wastes time that could be spent more usefully on rigour, ideas and quality.

But it’s also an opportunity. The public-sector design buying process is a prime candidate for the kind of design thinking that is helping to bring innovation to public services.

Perhaps one of our industry’s New Year’s resolutions should be to convince the public sector to let us help it to design better procurement.

Lydia Thornley, Design consultant, Studio 112, London EC2

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