Graham Archer believes that Government could save millions simply by putting more thought into its purchasing policies. “But then, my theory is predicated on a belief that Government cares. I believe they don’t,” he says.
Government spin would have us believe that there are only three ways out of our current difficulties: either the Government spends less, borrows more or taxes more. Amazingly, there is a fourth way that is never, ever mentioned: BUY BETTER and SAVE MORE!
I say this confidently believing that there is not one reader who would not shave a few bob off their service and equipment prices if they knew it meant securing business and keeping the contracts that they have.
My belief is this: as a nation, we should stop paying over the odds for things we do need, and stop creating things that we don’t need.
Students of auto industry economics will remember a situation many years ago involving two giant German carmakers. For the purposes of illustration, I refer to them simply as company ‘A’ and company ‘B’.
Bitter rivals, both competed in the high-volume market segment, in which cars produced by company B had become more price competitive than those of company A.
Naturally, A was at pains to eliminate this disadvantage. Enquiries revealed that their rival B’s advantage was rooted in a more effective purchasing regime – whereupon they got the notion that, if they could poach their purchasing person to their team, his methods would transfer with him and his secrets would be theirs.
And so it came to pass. Headhunters got to work and he changed sides. With him, came his knowledge, plus a team of ardent acolytes all imbued with a fervour for competitive purchasing that would deliver the cost savings that their new master so cravenly desired. Their approach was akin to a religion that they practiced with zeal.
To achieve the prices needed, teams of acolytes would descend upon suppliers, take up residence and study their operations in fine detail to root out savings they felt each supplier could introduce that would, in turn, make their products more competitive. Their method entailed a “we’ll help you so you can help us” approach, designed to make suppliers deliver products at a price their new master was prepared to pay.
But when our Government talks about the steps we must take to make our new masters happy, we never hear them promote the idea of eliminating waste and cutting out those things for which we have no use. New replacement driving licenses are just one example. And would you be bothered if, for a year or two, you didn’t see a road sign telling you that the EU was supporting this or that project? Yet those who would lecture us about our SKY subscription think nothing of buying things that Ireland could very well do without.
In fact one cannot escape the notion that millions could be saved if Government could give greater thought to its purchasing policies.
Imagine for a moment that teams of keen-as-mustard buyers were posted throughout the public sector and given this simple brief: “deliver savings that would not involve salary cuts, staff redundancies or cutting back on the purchase of necessary goods and services”. Could they do it? You bet they could!
With little difficulty, they would surely clock up massive savings. Already we know that the HSE lags far behind the NHS when it comes to buying its medicines. Add in bandages and laundry bills and all the other things that the HSE spends money on and one begins to get the picture.
Of course, my theory is predicated on a belief that Government cares. I believe they don’t – and I introduce as evidence this one small example: the way in which they change Ministerial job titles.
Once we had a Department of Industry & Commerce. Now it’s Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation. We had a Department of Education that became Education & Science and is now Education & Skills. Social Welfare became Social Protection, and so forth.
Every time a change is made, new brass plates must be made and fitted. Reams of letterheads must be printed and new logos designed. At a stroke, the old must be binned and replacement items purchased – with money that we have to find. How can such unnecessary expenditure be justified?
If we could get Government and its numerous offshoots to BUY BETTER, huge savings could be made. What angers is the belief that we are the ones whose belts are tightened while Government goes on paying top dollar for funding special advisers, spin doctors and countless other items. The cost/need calculation simply does not add up!
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