I know that 偷工减料 is frequently used to describe intentionally (and perhaps secret) shoddy construction. When I translate it, I usually say "Cut corners". However, I think 偷工减料 has a very negative connotation, whereas "cut corners" has a somewhat less negative connotation.
Does 偷工减料 have a much more negative connotation than "cut corners"?
Can I use 偷工减料 to describe intentionally purchasing inferior product that everyone knows about? For example, let's say that an IT department purchases a lower-end computer rather than a high-end (and perhaps more up to an acceptable standard) computer. They do so publicly and with everyone's knowledge. Can I call this "偷工减料"?