Are you familiar with our procurement policy?
Based on a specific case at Aarhus University from 2013, where the applicable public procurement rules were not observed, university director Arnold Boon on his blog this month underlines the importance of relevant staff being familiar with our procurement policy.
I was interviewed recently by a journalist from Jyllands-Posten who was interested in finding out more about our procurement policy at Aarhus University.
The journalist's interest was piqued by the fact that just before Christmas, the Danish Agency for Institutions and Educational Grants had issued a statement on a 2013 case involving Aarhus University, where the applicable public procurement rules were not observed. This was linked with the purchase of AV equipment for a new lecture theatre at Moesgaard Museum. JP was given access to the statement, which had taken two years to compile.
As I also said in my interview with JP, we tightened up on our procurement policy in 2015 after the Danish National Audit Office indicated that this presented a problem area where universities had to demonstrate more rigour. Since then, the senior management team has focused in particular on continuously updating and reinforcing the procurement rules and raising awareness of them internally.
One of the criticisms in the statement was that the university was said to have paid more than DKK 67,000 in double billing, for instance. This is correct, but the error is an isolated case which was corrected as soon as it was discovered.
Another criticism involves an expense that was posted in the accounts in the year before it was actually delivered. As far as possible, we must use expenses in the period in which they are posted in the accounts. But unlike government institutions, as a self-governing institution we are able to carry forward our budgets from year to year. This essentially does away with the incentive to "spend up in December".
The case has been concluded – but we must continue to maintain focus
The Danish Agency for Institutions and Educational Grants now considers the case closed, and acknowledges this fact in their report on the more stringent conditions now implemented by AU in this field. However, they recommend that we continue to focus specifically on this field. I wholeheartedly agree. It is extremely important to ensure that we comply with the rules and recommendations devised for procurement.
First and foremost, all relevant staff must be familiar with our procurement policy. This can be found on our website and provides a two-page overview of our policy as regards purchase agreements, our procurement principles and organisation in this area.
Moreover, it is important that we follow existing purchase agreements wherever possible. You can find out more about these on our website, where there is also a guide on to what to do if no agreement is in place. Finally, the website also includes a brief guide on how to evaluate your purchase.
I would like to underline the fact that it is enormously important for Aarhus University to avoid cases similar to the 2012-14 case in future. So if you have any questions about our procurement policy, feel free to ask them in the comments field – or send an email to Purchasing (firstname.lastname@example.org).