Monday, June 30, 2014

Dublin City and Council Councils Library Supply Tendering

Dublin City Council has joined the other three Dublin local authorities in a tender for the supply of library books.
 The 2012 tender for library book supply from Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council awarded €595,000 of the total €800,000 to a UK multinational with a group turnover of £1.8 billion. The award criteria guaranteed 65% of the marks to the lowest price
The latest tender has a value of €7.5 million ( retail value €12million) and the same award criteria.

Up to now, library supply was spread among a number of suppliers and bookshops through smaller contracts.  The bundling of the contracts together into this larger tender, effectively elimates these Irish suppliers from the process as the successful applicant must prove they have previously handled a contract of this size.  You might say that this tender process could in effect, 'gift' the contract to one of two UK based wholesale library suppliers.
It should be noted that procurement followed the same route in th UK some years ago resulting in the closure of many businesses and now the UK lacks competition.

The cost saving (reletively small at that) argument is an easy one to win.  It's the quickest soundbite for media to grab however the bigger picture shows considerable damage will be done to the publishing industry.
The immediate effect of a move to UK supply will be the closure and job losses in Irish library supply businesses.  The next in line will be publishing employees and publishers' agencies in Ireland.  Irish indigenous publishing will then see their sales into Irish libraries decrease due to the removal of local interaction with libraries.
To illustrate this, an Irish publisher I represent used to supply Northern Ireland Libraries through a Belfast based supplier.  Due to the unsustainable discounts demanded by libraries, this supplier closed last year.  The same Irish publisher now does releatively little business with the UK supplier that subseqently won the contract.

Local Govenment procurement is required to consider local socio-economic factors when making decisions but I fear that the civil servants responsible are disconnected from the effect of many of their decisions.  Neither are they sensitive to the fact that in order for the economy to succeed, we all need to succeed.

So, is it really down to the 'them and us' argument between public and private sector? 


carl3684 said...

Supply and demand, economies of scale - compete!!

Conor said...

Carl3684 This is the easy argument. I'm not suggesting any form of protectionism but if you have a situation where a larger company might effectively buy the business perhaps with an element of loss-leading, you then face a monopoly situation and the customer eventually loses control. Irish companies can compete through good service and product knowledge (while being good value too) however when the whole decision is based on price (regardless of what the County Councils say) it's all too easy for muti-nationals to dominate. If it's all down to price, would one buy the cheapest laptop, the cheapest burger? I fear that the County Councils have not done enough research into the market in order to confirm the best deal for the taxpayer in the way you or I would research before making a sigificant purchase

gentlywithachainsaw said...

Two women have been made redundant this year from a library book servicing company in Dublin due to the fact that so much business has been lost to the UK companies over the last few years. Cost saving may be the easy reply to questions, but ultimately it will cost the Irish tax payer more in terms of increased people signing on, and this will likely result in less money in government coffers for things like library books!