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Let the sunshine in - transparency, democracy and procurement

Author: Alex Ando

As one of the privileged baby-boomers who has retired, I have more time to think and look at life from a different perspective. As a British citizen living in one of Europe's capitals, I also have the advantage of seeing the UK from the outside and (though comparisons are odious) perhaps can at times appreciate certain aspects of British society more that the inhabitants of green and pleasant land.

As a teenager at school I loved to listen to the musical “Hair” and one of my favourite songs was “Let the Sunshine in” - one of the least controversial – and still listen to it. But what I listen to regularly, as I dutifully do my 30 mins on the exercise bicycle in the morning, is the Today programme on Radio 4.

What strikes me day after day is how the Today Programme and PM, among others, are an integral part of the democratic process in the UK and how lucky we are to have such institutions. They call people to account, they highlight injustice and they praise positive efforts. Whatever one might feel about the interviewing techniques and the subjects broached, the BBC and other channels are an integral part of the checks and balances that allow the UK to move forward more or less sure that cronyism and the feathering of one's own bed with public funds are eventually shown up. Let the sunshine in!

Life is all about checks and balances – work, play, family (although in the latter case sometimes I think it's more about cheques and balances...!) and when one lives abroad and sees how the media is muzzled and public service is seen as an invitation to put one's hand in the public purse, I thank the powers that be for the BBC. When I hear that the ruling party at Westminster berates the press for being one sided, part of me rejoices as this means that someone somewhere is doing something right for the long-term wellbeing of our democratic process. The checks and balances in the system will ensure that the complaint will be aired and examined and the light will once again shine in and onto some murky area.

I am a small and irrelevant provider of seed capital to INNOVO. It would churlish and downright wrong for me to say that the only reason I risked some of my hard earned pension money in INNOVO is because I thought it too could play a part in the system of checks and balances that help our country prosper. I did it because I was very impressed by the founder, the team around him and especially the farsighted idea...but most of all I want to make some money. However a tiny part of me was also motivated by the fact that I could see that a pooled procurement system which allows ratings by its members could bring substantial benefits to the way the State sector (and obviously the private sector) operates. There are thousands of State organisations which are involved in procuring goods and services with our money and for them to have a platform which can guarantee that they get value for money and ensure that they can never be suspected of favouring one supplier over another is a big step forward n accountability. INNOVO allows the sun be shone continuously on the procurement process and that must be a good thing for everyone.

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