Posts Tagged ‘Richard Branson’

UK cancellation of rail contract is in the style of Indian contracts

October 3, 2012

Large public contracts in India are often plagued by claims of favouritism, rigged specifications to suit a particular bidder, rigged evaluations, bid cancellations, vicious publicity campaigns by the protagonists and innumerable rebids. It is not uncommon for high profile complaints by a bidder after losing a bid to lead to a reversal of an award decision. The more high profile the complaint is and the closer in time a complaint is to an election, the more likely it is that a reversal of a decision can be achieved. The sales process in India does not end when a contract is awarded and any self-respecting sales manager does not stop until he has tried all available avenues to reverse an award decision which has gone against his bid. The primary avenues available are through approaches to politicians and the bureaucrats involved in the evaluation and award (and these approaches are not always without the appropriate lubricating flows of  money).  For politicians, the bureaucrats are both the potential scapegoats and the potential justification for reversals of decisions. For good and bad, the Indian Civil Service is modeled on the British Civil Service  and the interactions between politicians and bureaucrats in India today have their roots in the methods of the British Raj. Bidding flaws and reversals of contract awards are usually a good indicator for the presence of corruption.

Phases of approval reversals

This story in the UK where high profile complaints from Richard Branson and Virgin Rail has led to the reversal of a decision to award a contract to a competitor could be a story lifted directly from an Indian newspaper. I note that in this case the politicians who have reversed their decision are using bureaucrats as their scapegoat. Who else? And when they make a new award they will surely justify their new decision on the pronouncements of other, more senior bureaucrats. It would seem that the methods of UK politicians and bureaucrats even today are not so different from those of their Indian counterparts. In India though, the opportunities afforded to bureaucrats and politicians by the bidding process have been raised to a much higher level.

The Telegraph:

Government cancels West Coast Mainline contract due to ‘flaws’ in bidding process

FirstGroup’s contract to run the West Coast Mainline has been cancelled by the Government due to “significant technical flaws” in the bidding process, which will be re-run. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said that the flaws “stem from the way the level of risk in the bids was evaluated”.

Spaceport America gets ready for first commercial passengers to space

November 18, 2010
Simplistic map of Sierra County, New Mexico, i...

Location of Spaceport America: image via Wikipedia

Reuters reports:

The New Mexico Spaceport Authority, which plans to start launching citizen astronauts on suborbital flights within 18 months, has begun soliciting contract bids from local businesses for day-to-day operations of the facility.

Construction of the world’s first commercial passenger space terminal, dubbed Spaceport America, is slated to be finished next year near the town of Truth or Consequences in southern New Mexico. The 2-mile-long main runway was completed in October.

Spaceport America Wednesday, 10 November 2010 04:09 :image

Two other major structures nearing completion at the nearly $200 million facility are the air-fire rescue facility and a 110,000-square-foot hangar, authority spokesman David Wilson said.

To date, 380 wannabe space cowboys have each plunked down $200,000 each to reserve a seat aboard a Virgin Galactic six-passenger spacecraft for a 2-1/2-hour suborbital flight some 70 miles above the Earth, Wilson said.

Under a 20-year lease with the state, Richard Branson’s firm is Spaceport America’s anchor tenant and principal spaceliner, paying lease charges of up to $200 million, plus user fees to operate their own aircraft and to contract with other aerospace companies.

The site has been providing commercial launch services for the aerospace industry since 2006 and is expected to be fully operational by mid-2011. But Virgin Galactic expects to take another year to begin its private passenger service, once its test-flight program is complete.

The authority’s executive director, Rick Homans, this week issued a call for businesses to submit proposals for three major areas of operation of the spaceport.

They include general services, such as maintenance; protective services for site security, safety and environment health management; and technical services, including airfield and launch support, airspace management and flight safety engineering.

Artists impression of Virgin Galactic: image

Virgin Galactic’s VSS Enterprise made its solo flight in October.

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