Construction procurement

The construction industry in Scotland employs more than 170,000 people in around 31,000 businesses and is worth around £7 billion.

The public sector is a significant customer with an annual spend of more than £4 billion on building or civil engineering works.

We are taking forward a number of actions to improve the procurement of public sector construction projects.

The following topics are covered on this page:

Construction procurement and COVID-19

We have issued a number of construction policy notes which address our objectives for the sector during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Construction conference

Our construction conference which was scheduled for Wednesday 17 June 2020 has been postponed due to the pandemic. We hope to reschedule the conference for 2021, dependant on advice, and will keep you posted.

Construction procurement guidance

Client guide to construction projects

Guidance to assist public sector clients to manage and procure construction projects is available online through the links below. It consists of three handbooks. These are:

Whilst the guidance is aimed primarily at public sector clients, it should also be of assistance to contractors and consultants alike in developing their understanding of how the public sector delivers construction projects.

Note that the Client Guide is being updated to take account of changes to Scottish procurement legislation resulting from the UK’s Transition Period on exiting the EU coming to an end on 31 December 2020. In the meantime, SPPN 11/2020 and SPPN 1/2019 should be referred to for further detail of the mainly technical changes that have been made.  

Construction policy notes (CPNs) 

These have two purposes one is to notify the public sector and their stakeholders of changes to our construction procurement policy but also to provide  additional guidance to contracting authorities on various aspects of construction procurement.

Note that the Client Guide to Construction Projects and Construction Policy Notes are both mandated for use by all organisations that fall within the scope of the Scottish Public Finance Manual. Whilst they are not mandated for other organisations we would recommend their use as good practice.

Construction clients knowledge hub

We have established a (virtual) Knowledge Hub for public sector contracting clients, which are mandated by the Scottish Public Finance Manual and are responsible for major construction and infrastructure (non-digital) projects and programmes.

The hub advises members of developments to our Construction Procurement Policy, including updates to the client guide to construction projects and the publication of new Construction policy notes (CPNs).

It also provides a platform for Scottish Government and members to identify and consider current and emerging issues and to exchange experiences of good and not so good practice.

If you are interested in joining the hub, please contact us at:


The purpose of any construction project is to deliver a physical asset, which meets the requirements of the client, as specified in the contractual documentation.

The client’s role and their capability to successfully delivering quality outputs and outcomes from their projects is crucial to the success of the project.

The Client guide to construction projects includes advice throughout its three handbooks to assist public sector bodies deliver their projects on time, on budget and to the agreed standards. However, chapter 3 on quality of  the Construction Phase Handbook  provides an overview of the client’s role to successfully delivering quality outputs and outcomes in projects, particularly during the construction phase. 

Project Bank Accounts (PBAs)

We are helping to ensure that contractors and sub-contractors working on building projects by Scottish Government bodies are paid promptly and fairly, through the use of Project Bank Accounts.

Project Bank Accounts (PBAs) are ring-fenced accounts which see members of the construction supply chain working on government projects - many of which are SMEs - get paid directly within contractually agreed dates.

guide to implementing Project Bank Accounts has been published along with relevant Construction Policy Notes.

Review of public sector procurement in construction

This 2013 review looked into the procurement of public sector construction projects.

It made a series of recommendations designed to improve and strengthen client and supplier capability through a more efficient and effective procurement process. Read more about the implementation of these recommendations.


You can view construction procurement content prior to 2018 on the archive.


If you have any questions about the above please contact the Construction Procurement Policy Unit:

Tel: 0131 244 8492