Regarding the editorial “I, The Jury” (June/July issue), we are pleased that someone in the industry has had the courage to open the topic of bribery, which impacts on the entire industry. We believe, however, that you have confused the legal practice of sole-sourcing with the issue of bribery.
Sole-sourcing is a legal government procedure, practiced by all industrialized nations. The authority to do so is generally found in the enabling statutes or their regulations. Governments are generally held to a much higher standard than individuals or private companies and are therefore bound to use the best available technologies specifically where there is impact to life or the environment. Private companies sole-source routinely.
The issue of bribery arises both in the sole-source process as well as in the bid process. We submit to you that it is substantially easier for staff to legitimize an influence peddler through the public tender process than it is through the sole-source process. Politicians and indeed the competitors have a tendency not to question the legal tender process, assuming that all has been done in accordance with the rules. The sole-source process, however, has a tendency to be very closely scrutinized by both the politicians and the competition. Bid processes are very costly for legitimate participants. As a company, we would prefer if municipalities which have pre-selected a technology for whatever reason–technical superiority, price, bribery–abstain from using a public tender and issue a sole-source procurement. This would save us a great deal of money.
Legitimate companies know as soon as they read the RFP if it should have been issued as a sole-source and should (as we do) decline to bid. If a number of companies decline to bid, this will signal to the politicians that something is amiss in their process.
President, HUWS Corporation