Procurement difficulties

The agency thought it had a good system for ensuring it got the best price for major purchases: even when a project was funded entirely from its own funds it followed a procedure it had learned from a donor, asking for three quotes for each major purchase. The agency insisted on this rule even though everyone in the country office knew that suppliers worked together to produce three inflated quotes, deciding among themselves whose should be the lowest on each occasion. The 'lowest' then supplied the goods and paid a standard fee (which the agency, had it known, would have called a kickback) to the storekeeper. He certified that the goods had been received and were of good quality.

It was hard to persuade the agency that local knowledge of prices, suppliers and commercial practices, and a focus less on cost and more on value for money was a better approach than following a system that invited and received abuse.