Lord Sutherland has chaired an inquiry into the collapse last summer of the SATS system (school tests). One conclusion he reached was that the supplier had not been properly investigated before being appointed:
Giving evidence yesterday, Sutherland said: “I don’t know companies that don’t do that kind of probing, whether it’s by telephone or Googling.
“If you Google, first you get the press cuttings and then you say, ah no, that’s so and so but here’s a serious report that maybe we need to inquire into further – and that’s what wasn’t done.”
Sutherland agreed that such online probing could produce gossip, “but if they have publicly failed to deliver on contracts in previous years, I’m not talking about 1920 here but earlier within the current period of five, six, seven years, if it failed to deliver then, then you ask what have they done to improve their delivery and performance?” (The Guardian)
This is good advice in itself, and it is also worth bearing in mind that one likely result of the SATS fiasco and Sutherland inquriy is civil servants and others being now much more likely to research possible suppliers online and to take serious note of what they find. After all, if something goes wrong and you’ve ignored the warnings from the Sutherland inquiry, that would make it pretty hard to justify you having done your job well. So would-be suppliers beware.