Public Procurement Reform


In April 2015, the Public Procurement Reform Board (PPRB) published “Transforming Procurement, Accelerating Delivery”, a review of the second phase of public procurement reform 2010-2014.

The report recognised that the recommendations from John McClelland’s 2006 Review of Procurement in Scotland - Report and Recommendations were now effectively business as usual, with future emphasis shifting to a new set of strategic objectives that underpin a more succinct vision for procurement in its third phase:

“Delivering procurement that improves public services for a prosperous, fairer and more sustainable Scotland.”

Procurement in 2015 is a key partner and enabler in delivering public service reform. There has been a subtle shift from the ‘government-led, public sector owned’ approach of its second phase, to a ‘truly collaborative approach’, that recognises the transition from a programme approach to one of continuous improvement, in a period framed by legislative and regulatory changes.

What will the new phase seek to achieve?

Public procurement in Scotland will deliver local economic, environmental and social benefits, at the same time contributing to our role in a global economy where ethical and sustainable procurement is demonstrated on a worldwide basis.

Promoting inclusive growth, our public procurement contracts will be amongst the most accessible in the world to micro, small, medium, and third sector organisations, providing an opportunity for Scotland’s SMEs and third sector organisations to benefit through public sector business both domestically and in other countries.

The supply chains that deliver goods and services supporting Scotland’s publicly funded services will be designed, competed, awarded and delivered efficiently and effectively, maximising opportunities for collaboration, while  delivering excellent public services which meet the needs of local people.

With public sector finances continuing to be constrained, against the backdrop of an economy that is growing again, public procurement in Scotland will need to deliver savings and benefits that will enable our public services to continue to meet the demands which matter most to the people of Scotland.

The above marks a sea change in procurement. In order to deliver our aspirations we need a generation of procurement professionals who can build on the exceptional talent we already have, and add to that the dimensions of a new generation with new challenges.

What’s being done to support this approach?

A medium term work-plan that feeds in to wider economic plans for Scotland - the ‘Transformation Journey’ - has been endorsed by the Public Procurement Reform Board (PPRB).

There are also changes in governance. In October 2015, the PPRB became the Ministerial Strategic Group - Procurement (MSG-P), a leadership group which supports the Cabinet Secretary.

As a group of leaders, it draws from each publicly funded sector, industry, commerce and the third sector. It provides strategic direction and contributes to ministerial decision making that delivers substantial benefits from the supply chains which supports and deliver Scotland’s public services.

It works to support the government’s economic strategy with each sector’s core deliverables – working collaboratively to bring commonality where that brings clear value, bringing tailored solutions by sector and  using the MSG-P membership as a medium to facilitate cross working and deliver considered, considerate solutions.

The MSG-P collectively explores and debates innovative ways to enable improved sustainable services and outcomes. It uses sectoral Centres of Expertise and the representative bodies of industry, commence and the 3rd sector on the forum to be the key enablers and facilitators in implementing collaborative and innovative outcomes.

What does it mean for me?

In the short term, the next phase of reform will require individual organisations to develop their working practices to align with legislative and regulatory requirements introduced by the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 and the implementation of the EU Directives.

Statutory guidance and models of best practice are being developed to support organisations. They will:

  • help public bodies meet their duty to prepare and publish procurement strategies and annual procurement reports

  • support contracting authorities meet their duty to comply with the sustainable procurement duty in the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014

  • help public bodies to exploit the facility to use community benefits

  • help public bodies apply exclusion grounds, selection and award criterion for regulated and EU-regulated procurements

In the medium term, outputs will be developed to support organisations in embedding sustainability through procurement, improve access for suppliers, increase collaborative working across the sectors, advance the capturing and recording of data and information, and support individuals and organisations to help procurement thrive.