blog Most IT professionals of any seniority are pretty much familiar by now with the sometimes shady tactics used by technology vendors during the procurement process, but just how open is the public discussion around that issue, and what can be done to tighten things up? The answers for many people, until now, have been pretty much “not that open” and “keep a close eye on them”. In an attempt to shine some needed sunlight on the situation and inject some rigour back into the process, the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has this week published a whitepaper on the issue (PDF). A couple of key paragraphs from the document giving common examples of how dodgy practices creep in:
“As project controls weaken, the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption has seen opportunities for profiteering and corruption increase. Contractors can over-service, over-price and under-deliver. They may over-specify the needs of the organisation to increase the price. They may bid low for standard work and then mire the organisation in a long and complex implementation. Contractors may steer hardware purchases toward those organisations that provide them with a commission.
They can gain control of intellectual ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼property (IP), making the organisation dependent on a single contractor for servicing and upgrades. Contractors may engage additional sub-contractors of lower skill, but bill them to the organisation at full price. Contractors and employees may own recruitment firms in secret through which contractors are sourced, or may have associates in the industry to whom work is directed. Position descriptions can be enhanced to include superfluous skills for a position in order to extract higher contract rates.”
Australia has certainly seen some pretty concrete examples of dodgy behaviour during the IT procurement process of late, if usually not out and out corruption. There was the botched procurement process for the Queensland Health payroll upgrade, in which IBM received information which competing tenderers were not privy to, and in October last year, ICAC found a University of Sydney IT manager to be corrupt. So these things do happen. Hopefully ICAC’s guide in the issue will be widely read by Australian IT managers and CIOs, with a view to keeping the whole industry honest.