One of the benefits of having some centralization to a procurement process is that an independent person reviews purchase requisitions to guard against improper use of company funds. But some organizations allow decentralized purchases of goods and services that fall below a certain value.
The thinking is that it would be too expensive to police every purchase and that those professional review resources should only be dedicated to purchases that place the most risk on the organization. So, that opens up possibilities for unethical procurements.
Such may have been the case in Guangdong, China recently, where two officials were busted for inappropriately buying corpses.
These officials “were in charge of meeting local city municipal requirements that a certain proportion of the areas’ dead be cremated instead of buried” and had been “buying bodies from grave robbers in order to meet government cremation quotas,” according to an article published by NBC News.
The purchase price of these cadavers?
Ten bodies for 3,000 yuan (about $485 US or $48.50 a piece).
Now, play make-believe with me for a second. What if someone in your company was going to buy stolen corpses with company funds for some bizarre reason?
Would the $485 price tag (on a toe-tag, perhaps?) enable them to make the purchase on their own?
If it didn’t, what if the end-user pulled the classic “split the PO” trick and made 10 separate purchases so that each purchase was less than 50 bucks?
Could this happen? Who would catch it?
How would they do it: P-card? Travel expense report? PO? Check request?
I bring up this crazy situation not to be grotesque, but to provoke you to think about where the holes in your procurement process may be, including purchases that get placed directly between the end-user and supplier.
Illegal and unethical purchases can and do happen. Sometimes quite easily. Anyone who thinks otherwise is dead wrong.
Scary, isn’t it?