Would You Mind Weighting?

A Brief Look at Trade Agreement Obligations

There appears to be some confusion amongst colleagues and clients about trade agreement obligations for disclosure of RFx weighted criteria. This is largely a concern on the demand side for the public sector, although the private sector responds to bid documents from the supply side. This article will try and provide clarity on the issue.

One policy out in the municipal sector, says that they will include the criteria but not the weighting in RFx documents. Another City posted their RFx with no reference to the weighting on the criteria, under the evaluation process. I inquired as to why and was advised “we get better proposals and then decide which one to go with.” Really? Really! This inconsistency is confusing for potential bidders and may be in violation of several trade agreements.

The respective spending thresholds give us some guidance. Under the CFTA for goods and services >$105,700; and on construction >$264,000, the evaluation criteria and weighting must be stated. This is covered under the CFTA Article 509.7

Under the NWPTA, the reference to criteria and weighting is silent. No mention of criteria at all. The spending thresholds for the NWPTA is >$75,000 for goods and services; and >$200,000 for construction.

If a city wanted to award a 3-year service agreement for landscaping services, they have some options to consider. If the city has a social procurement policy, the options could be expanded. First issue, what is the total value of the 3-year contract?

Option 1.

If the contract is worth ≤ $2900 per month, they would need to comply with NWPTA, and no weighting of criteria is mandated. If the estimate is inadequate, they may inadvertently reach the CFTA threshold. Unsuccessful proponents could make a serious challenge on the contract award and the evaluation process. The ceiling on $2900 per month over 3-years is $104,400, which is less than the $105,700 limit.

Option 2.

If the contract was ≥ $2937 per month, they would need to comply with CFTA and all its requirements. The ceiling for the contracted value would be $105,732 over the 3-year contract. The total value of the contract determines which trade agreement applies, not annualized values.

Option 3.

If the city wanted to negotiate with a social enterprise, they would be exempt from all trade agreements obligations. Spending thresholds do not apply. The NWPTA and the CFTA have exceptions when dealing with people facing barriers to employment, as an example:


2. Procurements:

(a) from philanthropic institutions, prison labour or persons with disabilities

CFTA 504 s. 11 (v)


  • This chapter does not apply to…

(i) procurement of goods and services… 

(v) from philanthropic institutions, non-profit organizations, prison labour or natural persons with disabilities

Summarily, the CFTA is clear that criteria and weighting must be made public prior to the release of an RFx. The NWPTA does not state that specifically, however, best practices in public sector procurement would be to disclose the criteria and weighting. This ensures the process is fair, open and transparent which leads to better value for money. The evaluation process, including the criteria and the respective weighting should be fully disclosed before approaching the market. This disclosure of the process does not require additional work for the procurement team.

With the potential for trade agreement challenges and loss of stakeholder confidence if not disclosed, perhaps you won’t mind weighting after all.

And Debate Goes On: Is Trust Misplaced in the Market?

When did the rust in trust start to build up?

A recent Edelman Trust Barometer (www.edelman.com) reports that less than half of the people they surveyed, aged 25 to 64, trust business to do what is right. The cumulative and compounding number of corporate transgressions contributed to the rust in trust culminating in the 2008 financial debacle. We can no longer rely on what business leaders say, instead, we need to see how their organization acts. The “video needs to match the audio”. Per Edelman’s report, trust-building attributes such as operational excellence have taken a back seat to engagement, integrity, products and services, and purpose.

Trust is the engine of business. Deontological theory expects us to “do good.” We trust each other to act in ways which achieve the greatest amount of good because people benefit from the most good. Trust is the currency of a business professional. Fiduciary trust goes beyond a moral or ethical obligation where a breach of fiduciary trust may result in legal proceedings between parties.

Internationally Canada’s public sector can do better. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index, Canada consistently lags behind many western countries. Corruption offsets much of the good which can be done in developing economies.

Trust is affected by capitalism, science, and technology, borrowing from Yuval Harari. Value is based on their ability to meet community expectations.

Should business ethics be an imperative?

Studies have shown that companies which perform well against their competitors often have a strong sense of commitment to values and ethics. As stated in Good Company, typically the best performing companies outperform the overall stock market. Over several years, companies within the same industry which adopted many of the trust-building attributes outperformed their competition.

Social capital refers to relationships in business and extends to the information you access, the ideas which you advocate, and your business acumen. Relationships are built on trust.

Organizational leadership affects personal conduct

Studies by Kouzes and Posner reiterate the importance of trust. They found honesty is a key virtue which leaders utilize to inspire others to follow. Followers will do so where they can trust the leader. Responsible leaders set the ethical expectations of staff and communicate through ethical messaging and conduct.

In the case of Timberland, CEO Jeff Swartz was made aware of the sourcing of hides for leather from the Amazon rainforest. Swartz expeditiously worked with Green Peace to release a policy requiring its suppliers to not purchase cattle which were raised in newly deforested areas of the Amazon. This policy had a significant affect on leather, beef, and other products sourced in Brazil. Any cost implications were completely secondary to doing the right thing to ensure brand protection and retain the trust of its customers.

Are codes of conduct really effective?

Codes of conduct are a guide at best. They set acceptable parameters within which decisions should be made by individuals. The SCMA Code of Ethics reinforces the professional behaviour and conduct which a supply chain professional should exhibit in practice. The Code serves as guidance for its members and reflects on the profession as a whole. While it may not prevent all acts of indiscretion, it provides an appropriate level of response where the behaviour or conduct of an individual may detract from the integrity of the profession.

The electronics industry has its Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition Code of Conduct. Many of the larger electronic brands are signatories to the code. While the intent of the EICC code is good, it has not prevented the questionable practices of sourcing raw materials such as coltan from the Democratic Republic of Congo. We could surmise that cost pressures necessitate securing the materials first and applying the code second.

The Canadian government participates on various OECD committees. In 2008 the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises states, “observance of the Guidelines by enterprises is voluntary and not legally enforceable.” It asks that MNCs meet the softer expectations of society while promoting commercial interests. In other words, the OECD trusts the companies to do the right thing.

The slippery slope to professional misconduct

Harvard professor Max Bazerman’s research led to an acknowledgement that once the ethical line has been crossed, an institutionalization of corruption can occur in which unethical acts become a part of daily activities and people often have a vested interest in remaining quiet.

Unequivocally the research showed that incremental steps of unethical behaviour largely went unnoticed. This may cause individuals to escalate these activities, unintentionally with no malice to defraud, until it must be dealt with.

In 2008, a former Imperial Tobacco employee admitted to the decade-long scheme to ship tax-free cigarettes into the US where they would be smuggled back into Canada for sale. In 2018, Canadian retailers admitted to price fixing on the price of food staples such as bread. The penalties do not seem to be effective. We can’t seem to trust them to do the right thing.

The cost of ethical failure

In 2013 SNC Lavalin paid a significant price for its unethical conduct. The World Bank barred SNC and 100 of its subsidiaries from bidding on any of the Bank’s development projects for the next ten-years! This was an outcome of SNC bribing foreign officials. The slippery slope indeed!

In the Canadian Federal budget of 2018, deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) were introduced. Many corporations have lobbied for DPA legislation as they say the penalties for illegal practices have been unfair. If the DPAs become part of the bargaining process for corporate misdeeds, the DPA becomes a proxy for a “get-out-of-jail-almost-free card.” The effect of a DPA is to reduce the penalties which were levied and let a guilty corporation have its mea culpa conditionally – where, if in future they agree to behave in line with the laws of Canada, they can conduct business as usual. The day after the DPA was announced SNC Lavalin’s stock rose in value.

DPAs are used in other countries. Therefore, having DPAs in Canada evens the playing field is the argument. This author’s opinion is that a DPA lessens the deterrence factor and invites a continuance of bending the rules. The principle of the ethic of care is to do what is right; the principle of ethic of justice is to only do what is legally required.

Promoting ethical conduct

In-house training sessions should reinforce the executive commitment to ethical conduct. Many organizations hold regular safety training sessions to promote safe work place practices. Much the same should be done with corporate ethics and values. Harassment, in its many forms, needs to be eradicated.

Where transgressions occur within an organization, action reviews should be taken to evaluate the cause and effect of such instances. Appropriate actions to mitigate the consequences and prevent further instances needs to taken. Hiding or dismissing inappropriate actions leads to inevitable reoccurrences.

Messages for procurement professionals

Bid-rigging and price fixing practices are alive and well in Canada. The fines levied by the Competition Bureau seem to do little to deter unacceptable corporate behaviour. The crooks become more creative; or may accept the fines as a cost of doing business.

Supply chain professionals play a role in mitigating and preventing bid rigging and other forms of illegal trade practices. It requires an increased level of due diligence to ensure market pricing is conducted in a fair and competitive process. An over reliance on competitive bids to set market prices, without looking for the signs of collusion, contributes to the problem.

Trust in the market should be earned and not assumed. Fortunately, most suppliers are good corporate citizens. The good should be rewarded for their conduct; and the bad should be fully responsible for their misconduct. I trust you’ll do the right thing!

It’s the People, Not the Paper: Managing Contracts and Measuring Performance for Professionals


Larry Berglund’s It’s the People, Not the Paper is a no-nonsense practical guide for professionals who want greater success in managing their contracts, reducing their risks, and upping their game with practical tools to evaluate supplier performance. Every business, government or organization that struggles with multiple contractors can use this practical book to save money, save time, and achieve quality results, not to mention, avoid headaches and legal snares.

Berglund shows us that clear understanding of the goals, coupled with clear communications and measures is not only a way to avoid the pains that poor contract management can lead to, but establish better relationships and better products and services for all. Focus on the marriage, not the wedding! This is Larry’s way: the path of making sure the people and the paper are in harmony.

“The final price is best determined through negotiations and not a predetermined set target… Better performers are for the long-term; the lesser performers are not sure there is a long-term and take what they can, while they can. Caveat emptor!…Contracts bind our relationships. Conduct builds our relationships!”
– excerpts from It’s the People, Not the Paper

Included in this publication are also competitive bid templates and contract forms, downloadable for you to use. While Larry warns that templates “should not be treated as a cooker cutter exercise. That type of complacency invites risk.” These forms are set up to give every professional a head start on a proven process.

Procurement courses can take a lot of time and thousands of dollars. If you need to make improvements fast and have a handle on the essence of great contract management, you need this book in your tool kit.

Order directly from Larry: lberglund@prezplus.com or 778-895-5358

$10.00 + GST for a PDF version.

Payment terms and options available.

SKUs Me! An Inventory Story

There are only two problems with inventory – too much or too little.

In the private sector too much means capital is tied up, obsolete stock is growing, operations are threatened and margins are squeezed. Too little means the company runs out of goods to sell or to maintain equipment, customers find another source or binge buying occurs to avoid stock outs. Private sector business management is compromised with poor inventory management. Companies such as Dell recognized how postponement could alleviate inventory investment through JIT; Amazon has taken inventory and service levels to a whole new competitive arena.

In the public sector too much inventory creates similar concerns, although it is often not as financially concerning. Cash flow is seldom recognized as a fiscal problem. Inventory carrying costs can run 15–45% and interest rates are currently at historic lows. In the case of too little public services may suffer and many customers have few choices but to wait.

As the above illustrates, one of the areas in need of attention in the public sector supply chain is inventory management. Many public organizations do not measure inventory turnover rates, as inventory staff don’t see it as a key performance indicator. The skills required for good inventory practices are not as highly regarded as, say, negotiating the best price.

A few years ago, the inventory turnover rate for medical and surgical supplies in one Health Region was running at approximately 20 turns per year. Earlier this year I asked a health care manger within the same Region about their inventory turnover rate, and the reply was that turnover was no longer an issue – they never calculated it as it was not a priority.

This article is not a critique of public or private inventory management but illustrates how some leading practices can be adopted by any operation. In particular, we will examine cycle counts and turnover.

Daily cycle counts.
This practice has been in use for at least 30 years, yet we still find that many do not have any form of cycle count and still require an annual physical shut down to count SKUs. The count is then compared to the book value and repeated year-over-year. Could you imagine Amazon saying ‘we are shutting down for 3-days at year end to do a physical count’?

The benefit of cycle counts is knowing much more accurately what you have in stock and improving business processes.

Some of the questions I encounter on this topic include:
1. What are the basics of a daily cycle count?
2. If we don’t count all the SKUs every day, how can we count all of the inventory items?
3. Won’t auditors object?

Let’s look at an example:
You have 500 SKUs in inventory. The total value of the inventory is $225,000. Which SKUs are most important?

The A-B-C analysis is:
A SKUs are 20% of volume and ~70% of investment
B SKUs are 30% of volume and ~25% of investment
C SKUs are 50% of volume and ~5% of investment

A SKUs = 100 and are valued at $157,500
B SKUs = 150 and are valued at $56,250
C SKUs = 250 and are valued at $11,250

The rule of thumb for ‘A’ SKUs is to count these monthly; ‘B’ SKUs are counted quarterly; and C SKUs are counted twice per year.

So, using our example:
For ‘A’ items, if we work 20 days per month we need to count (100/20) = 5 SKUs per day; we only count 5 ‘A’ SKUs and reconcile to the book value daily. If we count and reconcile a different group of 5 ‘A’ SKUs each day, we will have counted all the ‘A’ SKUs, once per month. The reconciliation catches the order filling and replenishment errors on a daily basis.

For ‘B’ SKUs, working 60 days per quarter (150/60) = 3 ‘B’ SKUs must be counted and reconciled each day. Every quarter we will have counted all the ‘B’ SKUs.

For the ‘C’ SKUs, working 120 days per 6-months (250/120) = 2 ‘C’ SKUs must be counted and reconciled each day. This means that we will have counted all the lowest value inventory items twice per year.

Based on my experience most public sector organizations could even reduce the count for A, B and C SKUs by half – in other words, using our example, only count 3 A SKUs per day; 1 B SKU per day; and 1 C SKU per day. Following a relatively easy to implement daily cycle count will lead to better inventory management practices and eliminate the annual inventory physical count utilizing existing staffing resources.

Inventory turnover rates:
This key performance indicator is critical to private sector organizations. Although public sector does not record ‘sales’, the standard formula can easily be adapted for public sector by instead recording the value of goods issued, which is a routine report generated by the most basic ERP system.

Value of Goods Issued/Average inventory.
$620,000/$130,000 = 4.76 turns per year.

The average inventory is calculated by using the Opening inventory value + the Ending inventory value divided by 2.

There is a great opportunity for public sector organizations to do benchmarking on the inventory practice of daily cycle counts and inventory turnover. Benchmarking by like sectors makes the most sense, such as a school district with another school district or cities of similar size and locales.

With some expertise in inventory turnover tracking, you will find you can target turnover rates, improve job satisfaction by having more accurate counts, and provide better services with fewer stockouts and a lower investment.

The Transition from Making Good Deals to Making Deals that Do Good

When buying goods and services, equipment for businesses and government, and on any construction and infrastructure projects, a social procurement approach is one that would take into consideration the interests of the community stakeholders. This approach includes: social, ecological, environmental and economic development. Best value is achieved when we balance value-based interests along with pricing concerns.

When tendering a project with social procurement values, whether a domestic or a foreign contractor takes the contract, it creates positive competitive tension in the market. Social procurement values ensure social impact in communities once the project is initiated. Social impact is a measurable change on social issues or outcomes through procurement decisions.  Social procurement is the transition from making goods deals, to making deals that do good.

Social procurement values have been around for a couple of decades but are receiving more attention through their success. Every organization consumes goods and services and these transactions are the everyday means of commerce. Social procurement is a specific strategy to ensure that local economic benefits are realized when contracting for goods or services.

Labour is an important factor in social impact outcomes. Individuals facing barriers, as one example, are often overlooked as a first choice for employment with for-profit organizations. This is understandable where peak efficiency is required to sustain profits. The result is many people facing employment barriers such as individuals having disabilities–rely more on social services paid for by taxpayers.

Would your organization hire an ex-convict? Likely not. However, Purpose Construction out of Winnipeg, does. As a social enterprise, Purpose Construction trains barriered individuals to qualify for construction work, pays them living wage rates, and helps them to return to full time work–often in the private sector. Social enterprises are social purpose businesses which generate value by providing goods and services-generally as a not-for-profit operation. Social enterprises provide meaningful work for people facing barriers to employment. This can include skills development to prepare the individuals for a return to the work force. Social enterprises work with government, private sector companies and with other social enterprises. Social enterprises are operated by business entrepreneurs.

The Purpose Construction example builds social capital in a community. Buy Social Canada defines social capital as the “relationships and networks within and among community members.” With a shortage of skilled trades, Purpose Construction can build a pool of workers to meet the demand in the market without government subsidies.

One of the early and continuing success stories in the social enterprise sector, is CleanStart Hoarding & Junk Removal CCC Inc. In the Vancouver lower mainland, CleanStart, in 2015, paid $233,000 in wages to its barriered employees. This resulted in a social return on investment (SROI) of $1M per year in the local economy. In 2020, CleanStart will contribute $1.4M. The SROI is based on a study by E&Y with Atira Property Management which shows that for every dollar paid to target employees, the return is >$4.00 in social and economic development! When was the last time you got a 4 to 1 return on an investment?

As a synopsis, the empirical study on the SROI demonstrated reduced reliance on social subsidies, reduced shelter costs, reduced criminal activities, taxes being paid back into community, increased local spending, increased employability, increased self-esteem, improved health and general quality of life. This moves these individuals from dependency on social services to independent taxpayers.

Another company which uses social procurement as a business strategy is Chandos Construction. They are the first and largest B Corp certified commercial builder.

Chandos is a Canadian, employee owned construction company operating in several major Canadian cities. Their social procurement strategy embraces: local employment, expanded diversity, poverty reduction, eliminating social isolation, local purchasing, skills training, first source hiring, and fair wages to underrepresented individuals. Chandos successfully responds to tenders for major infrastructure projects-which is a very competitive sector. Their commitment to social procurement values is another example of building social capital. Chandos recently brought on several workers facing barriers as full-time employees and enrolled them in the Red Seal training program for trades.

Purpose Construction, CleanStart and Chandos are great examples of social procurement being applied in Canada. It takes the spending power of buyers to make this happen. It also requires that buyers look beyond the lowest out-of-pocket cost and redefine the value proposition. As we move into the post-COVID era, it is even more important that we ensure that social enterprises and small medium businesses have a good opportunity to participate in government contracts.  Government contracts are taxpayer paid. While we are engaged in a global economy, we concurrently need local economic diversity.

This implies not simply putting the bids on e-bidding platforms but using strategies which will increase the number of bidders. One tool is the unbundling of large contracts. The theory has been to buy the most from least to get the lowest unit cost. This strategy will always favour the multi-national corporations with the deeper pockets. Unbundling could take a percentage of the requirements and ensure local participation for the supply. i.e.  targeting women-owned businesses or Indigenous contractors. The balance of the requirements goes to the lowest bidder.

We are dealing with many oligopolistic markets where the largest suppliers tend to control the pricing and availability. When we reflect on the PPE shortage during COVID, in part, this can be attributed to the bundling of the demand. Great pricing but as it turned out-no supply.

All trade agreements, international and domestic, provide for exceptions, exemptions, and exclusions when dealing with social enterprises by Federal, Provincial or Municipal governments. Further regional trade agreements provide for derogations for economic development strategies!

Community benefit agreements are an extension of the social procurement strategy. A CBA is an agreement between community, government, and developers that ensures development projects enhance local social, environmental and economic opportunities. The Parq Casino in Vancouver is a good example of CBA.

For the past 2-years, through Presentations Plus, I have been the procurement advisor on the Coastal Communities Social Procurement Initiative (CCSPI) on Vancouver Island. Along with Buy Social Canada, Scale Collaborative, and the Vancouver Island Construction Assoc., our role is informing public officials, training public buyers, training small businesses and social enterprises on social procurement strategies. This includes drafting bid document templates with social value language which focuses on increasing local opportunities and drafting policies. CCSPI began with 6 cities/towns and now has 20+ communities participating in this project. It’s very exciting to see the commitment from so many parties to common goals which are being realized.

The following table shows the difference from where procurement has focused its attention and the transition to social procurement values.

Traditional focus

Social focus

Short-term costs

Long-term investment



Fiscal interests

Community interests

Consumption of resources

Conservation of resources

Make good deals

Make deals that do good



Ethic of Justice

Ethic of Care

It may be early days in social procurement, but I am pleased to say that more and more progressive organizations are adopting this strategy because of the compelling business case it creates. It’s about being vocal when making local the focal!

Luring Lemmings from the Ledge

Procurement Policies in the Public Sector

Most people like to follow the rules. In many organizations, this could mean adhering to policies which lack current relevance to organizational and stakeholder needs.  Playing follow the leader without challenging the status quo. Changing direction requires a procurement policy leadership strategy.


Image by: Mark Duffel 

Procurement policies are often written as edicts under the assumptions that if everyone obeys, all will be well. Many policies are outdated and don’t reflect best practices or current market events such as trade agreement amendments or case law rulings. Informal “work around” processes may prevail. As social procurement is being adopted by progressive public sector entities, procurement policies are often lagging on this important means to affect values and outcomes.

The purpose of a procurement policy is to ensure the organizational values are reflected in business practices. For example, a City wants to adopt a Fair-Trade policy or a Province wants to ensure small and medium businesses have better opportunities to compete for its supply contracts. A Hospital could ensure social enterprises have a stake in providing work on the project for people facing barriers. These strategic outcomes are set by elected officials and or Boards. Therefore, outcomes need to be reconciled to policy and enacted in practice.

One of the best tools to ensure a policy is understood, is to provide staff with the how and why of a policy. The how and why is provided through a policy guide complemented with in-house training. While the guide is important for procurement staff, it is even more valuable for other decision-makers to apply the policy statements to their departmental needs. Suppliers look for consistency as to how policies and practices align. Consistency can create competitive tension.

For example, a department manager receives an unsolicited offer from a supplier, how should that manager respond to it?  An example of a policy statement and how it is addressed in a policy guide are as follows:

Policy statement: Unsolicited proposalA proposal from a supplier which has not been solicited through a competitive process.

Policy guide:  Unsolicited proposals are typically submitted by a supplier who may also be able to supply similar goods or services as those in current use.  The City should not consider these proposals further where they already have a contract in place.  The City could, however, contemplate unsolicited proposals based on innovative practices or which use more responsible materials than are currently being used. In the short-term, the City may trial or pilot a program to evaluate the ideas further, without conflicting with existing agreements.  In the long-term this could result in a competitive process being initiated to determine best value.

The department manager now has guidance on how an unsolicited proposal could be handled. It is respectful to the supplier, ensures the current contract is honoured, and allows a means to accommodate new ideas in the market under the City’s priority of need.

Policies also act as a means of risk mitigation. When staff are well-informed as to the policies of the organization, they will apply them consistently in their business dealings. A common risk is a misunderstanding of the basic principles of competitive bidding found in Contract A and Contract B obligations. Good intentions do not excuse non-compliance.  A guide should reiterate the importance of Contract A and Contract B compliance along with other related competitive bid and contract management caveats.

Alternatively, when stepping out of the Contract A/B box to conduct a negotiated RFP a guide should ensure that staff are aware of risks and the correct process to use. Conducting evaluations often requires clear guidelines for objective outcomes to be fair and transparent.

Staff turnover compounds the potential for risk in bidding and contracting processes. The procurement policy guide increases the accountability for the designated authority, whether decentralized or in a centralized reporting structure. New staff can refer to a current guide when making procurement decisions. The guide mitigates the risk by having a searchable format readily available and updated annually. This implies, that the procurement policy should be reviewed on an annual basis. Staff training around a revised policy instils a better understanding of individual roles and responsibilities. If a city, as an example, is spending $50M or $500M per year for goods and services, there should not be an excuse of “I wasn’t aware of the legal obligations” when problems occur. It is incumbent upon the city to exercise all reasonable best efforts to ensure decision-makers are informed and as up to date as possible.

The commitment to social procurement has led to new opportunities in public sector strategies. Ensuring value for money is always the objective. Social procurement strategies are applied to increase social values and economic development outcomes while concurrently dealing with budget constraints. Social procurement practices within a policy are perceived as desirable and not mandatory, either-or options. A strategic outcome of social procurement practice is to build market capacity with social enterprises.  A procurement policy which is inclusive of social procurement values encourages suppliers to adopt social procurement values and work with social enterprises. Social procurement is leveraging the existing spend to improve social outcomes. Again, the why and how needs to be provided within a guide for staff to appreciate the shift in the definition of value.  Competitive bids need to have the appropriate criteria and weighting to affect change.

Ethical conduct in procurement requires an extra level of due diligence on the part of an organization to ensure fairness and transparency in its business practices. From declaring conflicts of interest in the procurement policy and how to clearly manage real or apparent conflicts during a bid process is part of the role of the guide. Not only is an individual’s integrity at stake but that of the organization itself.

An issue related to putting policy into practice is doing so in an apolitical manner. Individual beliefs or self-interests should not compete with organizational intentions. For example, the price variance between product choices. In one city, the environmentally responsible policy implied that cleaning products which contained volatile organic compounds (VOCs) should be avoided. However, products which did contain VOCs, at the time, were ~10% less. As the price difference could negatively impact the Facility Manager’s budget, the price-conscious manager went with the traditional cleaning product containing VOCs. His interpretation of the policy was one where the budget was the more important responsibility. After all, it was the taxpayer’s money. Therein, lies the rub. We now have an individual’s personal understanding of value being the proxy for the organization’s values. This is where the policy guide reiterates the need for clarity in setting the evaluation weighting so that the manager can proceed with a higher cost product-responsibly and ethically. The apolitical issue can be more problematic in decentralized organizations where authority is widely dispersed. This can contribute to inconsistency as to how a policy clause may be interpreted by the many decision-makers.  Guides remove the doubt.

How do policies become ineffective? Summarily, out-of-date policies which do not meet the needs of decision-makers or external stakeholders; bureaucratic inertia developed by being overly risk averse; rogue buyers not being reprimanded for ignoring protocols; bid templates and related documents not reflecting best practices; oversight for the policy not being an organizational priority.

Purchasing card policies are part of a procurement strategy. The use of Purchasing cards also requires clear guidelines on best practices to ensure value for money and avoidance of fraud.

As a procurement advisor to the Auditor General for Local Government, on several occasions this author found large and small public sector entities with serious gaps in their procurement policies and practices. Many of these shortcomings led to the inability to assess value for money on multiple contracts and a lack of accountability as to how public funds were spent. Policies are effective where the people that put them into practice find them to be delivering on value.

Is your policy leading lemmings or providing leadership?

The author, Larry Berglund, has extensive experience in drafting and implementing Procurement policies, Procurement policy guides, full suites of competitive bid templates, and staff training to align policy with practice. He has assisted many organizations with the introduction of social procurement into policies and practices.


Lemming image found here.

Larry’s New Book “Plan It for Our Planet” is out now!

Larry’s new book, “Plan It for Our Planet” is out now! Learn all about Social Procurement practices, policies, principles and plans for the Supply Chain” and make a difference in the world! 

Plan IT for Our Planet


In Larry’s own words:

Want to make a difference where you work? Get up to speed on what value is all about.

“I have spent the past decade working in the social procurement arena. This is one of the most important strategies which procurement people need to be savvy with.

I’ve taken a pragmatic approach on how to explain what social procurement is and how to implement it in your organization.

No more time for another course? Good-my book will save you the time. You’ll get a primer on social procurement practices on this must know subject.

We cover the economic, social and ethical benefits. We define the roles of stakeholders such as public buyers, private business operations and financial institutions. We quantify the benefits of SP with many examples and models-making it easy to grasp the concepts.

I will tell you how the trade agreements enable local sourcing with specific exemption and exception clauses.
We provide case studies to illustrate how SP is making a difference to people everywhere and it does not cost more money. There is a social return on investment which we will review and go into the economic multiplier effect-which is often left out of decision-making.

I’ll share best practices on how to communicate SP, which resources you might need, and the challenges of change management.

After reading the book you will be well aware of how SP works and how to advocate for affecting values-leading to actions you can take.

The book has lots of examples to draw from and outlines the scalable solution which can be adapted everywhere.
Get ahead of the curve and be comfortable with this new found tool for business decisions.

Impress your boss with your knowledge-you can read Plan It for Our Planet and put it to work the next day.

For $5.99-you can’t afford not to!”

You can purchase Larry’s book here.


Podcast Interview with Larry – “New Hope: Social Procurement with Larry Berglund”

Listen to an interview with Larry Berglund on PressResetWorld.com:

“Kat Nip interviews Social Procurement and Supply Chain expert, Larry Berglund about his new book on Social Procurement, “Plan It for Our Planet” You may not know about economics, but everyone knows about buying, so Larry will make this very easy for you to understand in an enjoyable interview, where you can see the importance of having social values attached to our buying habits. Larry has many examples as he tells about his journey from a traditionalist supply manager, to an advocate for Social Procurement. Topics: What is Social Procurement? What is Social Enterprise? Why is it critical to understand now? What values have we been operating under and how will that change? How is the Indivisible hand in the marketplace as important as the Invisible hand? What about Amazon? Where does government fit in? Where does business fit in?”