- 4 Jun 2020
1. This SPPN provides details of how a contracting authority should notify Scottish Ministers of the publication of its annual procurement report covering financial year 2019-20, including completing and submitting the template provided at Annex A. This SPPN also provides information on notifying Scottish Ministers of the publication of a revised procurement strategy.
2. The content of this SPPN is not legal advice and should not be construed as such. Contracting authorities are advised to seek their own legal advice in relation to any questions and issues they may have.
3. All contracting authorities with an annual regulated procurement spend of £5 million and above must produce an procurement strategy under section 15 of the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 (“the 2014 Act”).
4. It requires a contracting authority, which is obliged to prepare or revise a procurement strategy in relation to a financial year, to publish an annual procurement report on its regulated procurement activities as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of that financial year.
5. The 2014 Act also requires Scottish Ministers to publish an annual report on procurement activity in Scotland, providing an overview of public procurement activity and its content is informed by the individual annual procurement reports published by contracting authorities in Scotland. A copy of the Ministers' report must be laid in Parliament.
6. Please note that although this SPPN refers to publishing procurement strategies and annual procurement reports as a legal obligation under the 2014 Act, contracting authorities to whom these legal obligations do not apply are encouraged to publish strategies and reports as a matter of good practice.
Publishing an annual procurement report for financial year 2019-20
7. As mentioned in paragraph 4 above, the timing of the publication of an annual procurement report is for individual authorities to determine having regard to the circumstances prevailing to them at the relevant time. This allows authorities to take account of their ability to publish reports having regard to their resources and priorities at any given time including, for example, the pressures which may be placed on their resources during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
8. The timing of the publication of individual annual procurement reports is an important consideration in the preparation of the Scottish Ministers annual report on procurement activity in Scotland. This is because the Ministers’ report will be based on information contained within annual procurement reports published by individual contracting authorities.
9. The 2014 Act does not set a hard deadline for publishing annual procurement reports, providing instead a degree of flexibility that reports are published “as soon as reasonably practicable”. Last year we offered guidance that it was not unreasonable to expect reports to be published no later than five months following the end of the authority’s financial year. This was based upon experience of reports published by contracting authorities during 2018.
10. This year, it is recognised that contracting authorities face a number of additional challenges given the pressures of day to day business for public services as a result of the current COVID-19 outbreak and this may impact on the timing of their report. Where an authority determines this year that it is not possible to publish a report within five months following the end of the authority’s financial year, it must do so as soon as reasonably practicable thereafter.
11. As soon as an authority notifies Ministers it has published its annual report, we will undertake an initial analysis of it as the first stage in preparing the Ministers report. The second stage involves a wider high-level analysis of all reports available to us at a point in time. It is our intention to undertake this second stage in early 2021. We shall, however, keep the timing of this under review as we must balance the legal requirement to publish the Scottish Ministers report as soon as reasonably practicable with a need to ensure that report is meaningful, by including as many individual annual procurement reports as is possible in the high-level analysis.
12. On publishing an annual procurement report, the 2014 Act requires a contracting authority to notify Scottish Ministers. You can do this by sending an email to email@example.com with a link to where the report can be accessed. Contracting authorities should also complete the template attached as Annex A and include it with their email.
13. While individual annual procurement reports must meet legislative requirements set by the 2014 Act, authorities will also find them helpful in outlining how their procurement activity is contributing to the delivery of broader aims and objectives, for example, how you are using your procurement activities to tackle the climate emergency. This means that there is likely to be some variation in the content of these reports. At the same time, it is important to ensure consistency of the information that will be common to all annual procurement reports, which will be helpful to the reader of individual annual procurement reports, and for the analysis of those reports.
14. With that in mind, last year we provided authorities with a template to capture certain information in a consistent manner. We plan to revisit, and perhaps develop, this template based on experience, but for this year, the template is the same as the one used last year. It focuses largely on data that relates to the minimum content required by the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 and is consistent with existing guidance embedded within the Procurement Journey. This data is information that will be helpful to contracting authorities in managing their contracts and suppliers and so should be readily available. It is also helpful in improving the consistency and completeness of quantitative data associated with the minimum content of the 2014 Act that forms part of a high-level analysis.
Action required when publishing a revised procurement strategy
15. A contracting authority which expects to have procurement expenditure of £5 million or more in the next financial year must, before the start of that year, review its procurement strategy, make such revisions to it as the authority considers appropriate and publish its revised strategy.
16. The Scottish Government reviewed its own procurement strategy at the end of March and to provide continuity and support to our suppliers during the COVID‑19 outbreak took the decision to extend it until 31 March 2021, rather than publish a new one.
17. On publishing a revised procurement strategy, a contracting authority must then notify Scottish Ministers by sending an e-mail to ProcurementStrategies@gov.scot with a link to where the revised strategy can be accessed.
18. For guidance on the content of an annual procurement report or procurement strategy, please consult the relevant chapter of the Statutory Guidance. Supplementary guidance for an annual procurement report and a procurement strategy are available from the Procurement Journey.
19. Please bring this SPPN to the attention of all relevant staff, including those in agencies, Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) and other sponsored public bodies within your area of responsibility.
Annual procurement reports, revised procurement strategies and notifying Scottish Ministers: SPPN 7/2020
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