With procurement spending across the public sector in Scotland running in excess of £11 billion a year, procurement is a powerful tool helping us shape and deliver our ambitions for an inclusive society where the benefits of economic prosperity are shared.
The fundamental role of public procurement lies in the goods, services and works that we buy. Put simply, it is about ensuring that suppliers to the public sector deliver the right things at the right time. And that the goods, services and works we buy support the delivery of public services that are high quality, continually improving, efficient and responsive to local people's needs.
However, the full power of procurement is our ability to lever this spend in the pursuit of sustainable and inclusive economic growth with outcomes that are good for businesses and their employees, good for society and good for places and communities. And, in delivering our ambition, it is important that we remain open and connected with the communities we serve.
We have done much already to improve public procurement in Scotland and over the last few years we have delivered considerable successes. Yet we cannot afford to stand still. We must continue to look well beyond traditional savings and efficiency to harness the full power of procurement in the pursuit of sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
We must continue opening up opportunities for businesses of all sizes and types to compete for public sector work. We must seek to build-in community benefits that are high quality and add value, for example creating opportunities for people from priority groups including jobs, apprenticeships for our young people, work experience and training opportunities.
It's also about ensuring those that do business with the public sector are responsible businesses and fair employers, and engage in responsible business practices.
That is what sustainable procurement is about – and the concepts of business friendly and socially responsible procurement which are the hallmarks of our work to date remain fundamental to how we do business.
We have made strides on improving transparency of public procurement in Scotland. For example, we have made it easier to access and review public procurement information through an open contracting area on Public Contracts Scotland. I am also delighted to see the number of public bodies that have published an annual procurement report last year. Not only those required to do so by the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014, but also those choosing to do so as a matter of good practice.
We now need to build on those steps taken by many Scottish public bodies in publishing their first annual procurement reports. It is vital that we identify and share good practice, that we learn from one another, that we tackle areas where we know we can and need to improve to deliver on our ambition, and that we remain committed to the continuous improvement of public procurement in Scotland.
It is also important for those with an interest in doing business with the public sector to take advantage of our progressive approach to public procurement, using the tools we have provided to help them identify potential opportunities and understanding what we expect from our suppliers as responsible and fair employers and key partners in delivering our ambition.
By continuing to think creatively about how we collectively deliver maximum value for Scotland, by making our procurement spending decisions work harder and more effectively, by delivering social, environmental and economic benefits, which impact on people and places, we want to ensure that prosperity is shared more equally across all of Scottish society.
Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work