Have you heard the one about the port authority that wanted to sack all of its workers? Press one for the punch line, two for someone who gives a hoot and three for a container full of the stuff that comes out of male cows.
Ports of Auckland has released an RFP for an Interactive Voice Recognition system. And here’s a good punch line: the old system that they’ve had working for the last ten years and has been doing a fine job is called Salty Dog.
The RFP itself makes for an interesting read. As long as you have time to respond that is. The close date for questions is just three days before the final closing date. That means if you did get a response to a question you’d have just 72 hours to work out how you could react to the response and then get that incorporated into your system design plus written up in good ol’ MS Word, and you add a nice little diagram to illustrate your system sent it through to the printer, bound the thing and finally got your whole board of directors to sign off on it. Then convert the whole thing all back to PDFs and send it through the email pipe to the Salty Dog’s Kennel. No wonder their guys are on strike, these fellows are about as flexible as a chinless Syrian dictator.
And talk about doing it My Way. They have a list of get out clauses stacked in their favour that makes the Ten Commandments look like kindergarten rules.
POAL reserves the right to:
Reject any or all submissions, including the best priced submission;
- Accept or reject any submission at any time;
- Re-advertise for submissions;
- Waive any irregularities or informalities in the RFP procedure;
- Accept or reject non-conforming submissions and accept or reject alternative submissions which meet the same basic objectives as the RFP but which allow the services to be provided in a more economic, cost effective or efficient manner;
- Suspend or cancel the RFP process by notice;
- Not give any reason for any rejection or acceptance of a submission, or any suspension or cancellation of the RFP process;
- Shortlist submissions and reject unsuccessful submissions prior to the final date for acceptance of submissions;
- Directly enter into negotiations without shortlist;
- At any time, amend the RFP and any terms and conditions of the RFP;
- Respond to questions raised by a responder with a general response to other (or all other) responders
- Liaise, deal, negotiate and or conclude a formal agreement with any one or more person whether or not a respondent in this RFP process.
That’s quite a list. Why don’t they just say, these are the rules, but we’re going break any of them and that's absolutely OK with us and you can’t do anything about it. It’s worth repeating here: no wonder their guys are on strike. But let’s cut them a little slack: they are flexible, but only if they can bend the rules in their favour.
And as a final gripe they politely remind us that the “POAL is neither a government department nor an SOE, however, the extent, if any, to which POAL is subject to the Official Information Act 1982 has not been established; respondents should therefore make their responses “Commercial in Confidence” if they wish to ensure the protection of specific information.”
So if you really feel like responding, don’t talk to the media about your gripes because they’ll be off to the High Court before you can say, “Press one for keeping your job, two for defamation or zero to hear it all again.”