Over the past couple of years I’ve occasionally used these Leaders to comment on concerns regarding the PPE issued to frontline workers to help protect them from catching and/or transmitting Covid-19. These concerns involved whether the PPE was fit for purpose, its cost and the way in which the contracts to supply had been awarded. I’m in the industry but daresay that even someone who isn’t, might have wondered how some companies that had previously been involved in a completely different industry, had managed to rapidly set up or alter production facilities to produce PPE which Government buyers deemed a better deal than that being offered by seasoned suppliers. By ‘better deal’ I don’t only mean price, but quality too – for surely under the circumstances, quality should have been a crucial consideration. Yes – demand did quickly start to outstrip supply and often stocks will have gone to the highest bidder… Alternatives needed to be found and fast, but what happened to common sense?
Those in our industry were well placed to ask the right questions and I can recall applauding the ISSA when it announced that it was to work with the PPE Fraud Coalition to challenge the US Government over its ‘unfathomable procurement failures’. The two bodies were hoping to prevent future ‘fraudulent’ transactions and recover the $millions lost. I said we should be doing the same in the UK and indeed anywhere else that appeared to have experienced procurement issues – and, sometimes, fraud.
I’ve not had an update on the ISSA/PPE Fraud Coalition’s progress but the UK Parliament’s Committee of Public Accounts has finally released its report into the management of PPE contracts. As well as tackling important questions regarding supply chain security for the future, this report discusses the huge challenge faced by Government to manage ‘a stockpile of PPE which includes billions of items that are unusable or not needed’, whilst fighting disputes with PPE suppliers on 176 contracts. Apparently, little has been done to address the alleged fraud and up to £2.7billion of taxpayers’ money is at risk. How on earth has this situation been allowed to happen?
The full report is available for download at: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications while a quick overview can be found at: https://publications.parliament.uk
It's an interesting read.