Changes to the Public Procurement Rules in Scotland Consultation - Analysis of the Responses

An analysis of the responses to the 2015 consultation on public procurement reform.

The Consultation


On February 9th 2015, the Scottish Government launched the consultation 'Changes to the Public Procurement rules in Scotland' looking at the changes needed to implement new EU legislation. The consultation also discussed elements of the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 that have yet to be further described in Scottish Regulations or guidance. The consultation ran until April 30th 2015.

The Consultation

The consultation questions related to 9 key themes identified in the consultation document:

  • Taking social, environmental and employment issues into account.
  • Making contracts more accessible for smaller businesses.
  • Selection criteria and grounds for exclusion.
  • Contracts for care, support and other specific services.
  • Procedural rules.
  • Rules about communication.
  • Central purchasing bodies.
  • Enforcement and monitoring.
  • Open contracting.

The consultation paper contained 63 questions and invited respondents to answer any or all of these questions. The questions are included in Appendix 1.

Respondent Profile

Respondents submitted their responses either by email or in hard copy. There were 140 responses to the consultation: 133 from organisations and 7 from individuals.

The consultation Respondent Information Form asked respondents to select from a list of respondent groups. These groups formed part of the analysis process, enabling analysis of whether differences, or commonalities, appeared across the various different types of organisations and / or individuals that responded. In a small number of cases, respondents did not self-classify and, for analysis purposes, the researchers assigned these responses to the respondent group that they judged best reflected each organisation. Two additional groups: Unions and Housing / Care were added to the list of respondent groups to better reflect the organisational types.

A list of all those organisations who submitted a response to the consultation is included in Appendix 2. The following table shows the numbers of responses in each analysis group.

Respondent groups


Local authority


Third sector / equality organisation


Private sector organisation


Executive Agencies and NDPBs*


Representative body for third sector / equality organisations


Other statutory organisation


Representative body for private sector organisations




Representative body for professionals




Housing / Care










*Non-departmental public bodies

The organisation categories with the highest numbers of respondents were the local authorities (27) and third sector / equality organisations (20). The local authority category includes local authorities as well as related bodies such as COSLA.

Analysis and reporting

It should be borne in mind that the number responding at each question is not always the same as the number presented in the respondent group table. This is because not all respondents addressed all questions; some commented only on those questions or sections of relevance to their organisation, sector or field of interest. The report indicates the number of respondents who commented at each question. It is important to note that at some questions there was a fairly high level of non-response.

Most consultation questions contained closed, tick-boxes with options for 'Yes or No' or 'Agree or Disagree'. Some respondents did not use the consultation questionnaire and, instead, presented their views in a report or letter format. Where respondents did not follow the questions but mentioned within their text that they agreed or disagreed with a point, these have been included in the relevant counts. In addition, in some cases the text provided by respondents indicated the opposite view to the answer they had given to the closed question: this appears to have happened because of the way some questions were constructed. In these cases, where it was completely clear that the answer to the closed question was not the one the respondents had intended, the answer was changed to match the view expressed fully in the commentary.

Closed questions where a significant difference of opinion was evident have been included as tables within the report; where a large majority were in accord the findings have been included in the text. However, results from all of the closed questions are included in tables in Appendix 3.

The researchers examined all comments made by respondents at each open question and noted the range of issues mentioned in responses, including reasons for opinions, specific examples or explanations, alternative suggestions or other related comments. Grouping these issues together into similar themes allowed the researchers to identify whether any particular theme was specific to any particular respondent group or groups. When looking at group differences however, it must be also borne in mind that where a specific opinion has been identified in relation to a particular group or groups, this does not indicate that other groups did not share this opinion, but rather that they simply did not comment on that particular point.

While the consultation gave all who wished to comment an opportunity to do so, given the self-selecting nature of this type of exercise, any figures quoted here cannot be extrapolated to a wider population outwith the respondent sample.

The views presented in this analysis have not been vetted in any way for factual accuracy. Opinions and comments submitted to the consultation may be based on fact or on what respondents perceive to be accurate but which others may interpret differently. As it is important for the analysis to represent views from all perspectives, the report may contain analysis of responses that may be factually inaccurate or based on misunderstanding or misinformation but that, nevertheless, reflect strongly held views. In some instances, such inaccuracies and misunderstandings will be relevant findings in themselves.

A small number of verbatim comments, from those who gave permission for their responses to be made public, have been used in the report to illustrate themes or to provide extra detail for some specific points.

Findings from the analysis of responses will help inform the Scottish Government's plans to change the public procurement rules in Scotland.


Email: Graeme Beale

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