The Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) last week met officials from Transport for London (TfL) to lobby against reverse auction bidding for framework agreements.
At the meeting on Thursday, ACE outlined industry concerns about this method of procurement, including the belief that by prioritising low cost, quality of service would diminish and innovation would be stifled.
Reverse auction bidding involves submitting tenders on the internet. Often the lowest price wins.
ACE chief executive Nelson Ogunshakin, legal director Nora Fung and economic and policy director Irum Malik presented the case to Mark Bourke, head of procurement at TfL.
Ogunshakin said: “Reverse auction bidding is inappropriate for projects involving professional services, and in particular consultancy and engineering services.”
He said that the process undermined partnering and a framework approach. “It is widely seen by our industry as an inefficient and potentially dangerous procurement method, running counter to industry drives for best value in the supply chain. I know that the major consultants, including the top 20, share the view,” he said.
The meeting took place after Ogunshakin sent a letter to TfL, emphasising that “urgent face-to-face” discussions were needed.
ACE said that during the meeting the TfL team seemed to accept the arguments against reverse auction bidding and appeared to promise that in future it would consult ACE on procurement methods. ACE claimed that TfL had said that the failure on this occasion had been an oversight.
TfL said it would reconsider its position on reverse auctions and report back to ACE. It had not yet done so as Building went to press.