When it comes to public sector procurement, how often does the media erroneously waive the “corruption” banner? by Jon Hansen

Posted on March 13, 2013


Right out of the gate I want to stress that I know that there is no Santa Claus or that the Easter Bunny will not be hopping his way into our home to leave sweet treats for the family later this spring.

I say this as a means establishing the fact that I am not some misguided optimist who blindly believes in all claims that the check is in the mail, and that the government is indeed here to help us.  The fact is that corruption does exist.

However I also believe that in this era of heightened sensitivities, what is often times passed off in the media as public sector malfeasance is in reality a reflection of the government attempting to ignore the immutable truth that people do business with whom they know, like and trust.

The government does this by attempting to create a love all, serve all level playing field that contradicts the way in which the real world operates.  The most recent example is the Bruce Atyeo lawsuit, about which I wrote in my January 26th post Breaking News: Vendor’s efforts to sue government for $62 million as a result of losing bid understandable but misguided.

Royal LePage 1

So as to avoid covering old ground yet again in today’s post, I will direct you to read the above referenced article at your leisure.

My point is simply this; do we immediately cry foul because their is an attitude of business entitlement in which we hold the government to a standard of engagement that we in our own daily dealings would resist with indignant fervor?

Think about it for a moment . . . what if you were told that in your quest to purchase a house, you had to go through a costly, time-consuming process to give all “interested” real estate agents an opportunity to represent you?

Then, and despite going through that process, your selection of a particular agent is not just challenged, but is also questioned under the auspices of purported favoritism and wrongdoing?  How would you feel?

I am of course not talking about scenarios such as what is happening in South Africa in which an enormous amount of government business is being awarded to vendors in which the buyers themselves have an ownership stake.   That is corruption!

What I am talking about is the fact that we force our government to source deals as opposed to relationships and ultimately get what we deserve i.e. the CF-18 Hornet debacle.


The fact is the system is broken.  But it’s present state is not the result of the politically motivated screeches of wanton corruption.  It is broken for many reasons including;

  • vendors who expect to win business by simply responding to a bid rather than putting in the required effort to build a meaningful rapport with the buyer to truly understand what is needed and to learn how to best position their services or products as the solution.
  • buyers who are more interested in just following orders or protocol without actually considering their merits in relation to being able to choose the right vendor.
  • the government for allowing itself to be bullied into abandoning all common sense and procurement logic in an effort to attain the unattainable goal of everyone is welcome at the table.
  • the media for creating a controversy that gains an audience but does little to actually foster a positive change.
  • and finally the public, who like McCarthy hunting down reds, are always looking for and expecting the worst when the worst is not usually a factor in the equation.

Now that you have my two cents, what are your thoughts?  Am I a misguided optimist, a realist or have I suffered one too many blows to the head?


Posted in: Commentary