Embedding sustainability in all we do
The Scottish Government's approach to sustainable public procurement is encapsulated in the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014. Sustainable public procurement aims to make the best use of public money by driving access to contracts for business; jobs and training; and reflecting climate change goals. Public sector procurement in Scotland has been used to achieve a wide range of economic, social and environmental benefits. With the approach enshrined in legislation, public bodies are required to consider how their procurement activity can be used to contribute to national and local priorities and to act in a way to secure this.
Published in 2007, Social Issues Guidance outlined ways in which social issues could be considered in public procurement and gave an overview of reserved contracts and community benefits in procurements.
The Community Benefits in Public Procurement report in 2008 provided information on the policy and legal context of using community benefits and included a range of case studies and model clauses. By supporting the use of these clauses, opportunities were established for local organisations, including the supported employment sector and other social and community enterprises - to compete and provide goods and services across Scotland's public sector. Use of community benefit requirements increased as they formed part of flagship projects such as Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Game contracts; the Queen Elizabeth Hospital build and the Queensferry Crossing.
In 2009, the Scottish Sustainable Procurement Action Plan set an initial framework to enable recognition of existing initiatives and achievements and provided a "blueprint" for organisations at the early stages of developing their approach to sustainable procurement; it heralded the introduction of the Flexible Framework self-assessment tool, which has subsequently been developed and
forms a key part of the current Scottish approach to sustainable procurement.
Based on independent research by University of Glasgow, looking at 24 contracts this contributed to:
- Over 1,000 people from priority groups being employed - 38% of the job opportunities for priority groups were estimated to be additional (i.e. would not have been recruited without the CB requirement) and 75% were sustained (i.e. employed at the time of the research);
- 200 apprenticeships from priority groups - where data was available, 78% of the apprentices were estimated to be additional and 100% were sustained;
- Over 650 people from priority groups accessing work experience - where data was available, 72% of the work placements for priority groups were estimated to be additional (i.e. would not have been offered without the CB requirement); and
- Over 6,700 people from priority groups accessed training - where data was available 31% would not have received training. A further 34% of training places would have been offered (CB clause led to the training being accredited).
Sustainable Procurement Duty
The introduction of a sustainable procurement duty in the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014, requires public sector organisations, when contracting, to consider:
- Improving economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the authority's area (with a focus on reducing inequality);
- Facilitating involvement of SMEs, third sector and supported businesses; and
- Promoting innovation.
Guidance has been written to complement a wide range of the provisions in the Act and Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations, aimed at making public procurement socially responsible and business-friendly. It has also been designed with a view to contributing to climate change targets - for example minimising the negative environmental impacts of street-lighting and retrofits to social housing and public buildings.
A risk and opportunity-based approach to sustainable public procurement, the 'Marrakech Approach' was developed under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to accelerate the shift towards sustainable consumption and production, promoting social and economic development. To date over 700 people have been trained; mentoring support has been provided to a range of procurements across the public sector; and numerous case studies illustrating this approach have been published.
The sustainable procurement duty also requires contracting authorities to consider how procurements can be designed to facilitate access to small and medium enterprises, the third sector and supported businesses. The facility to do this has been increased over 10 years of procurement reform through:
- The Suppliers' Charter;
- Public Contracts Scotland advertising portal;
- Standardisation of pre-qualification, initially by introduction of the sPQQ and now through the Electronic Single Procurement Document (ESPD); and
- Enhanced debriefing.
Jim Miller, Director, NHS National Services Scotland
The McClelland Report was composed of common sense, simple and logical conclusions: working collaboratively, in a more professional and supported environment, with a greater emphasis on value to both the internal and external customer and taxpayer. However, where it struck a chord was that it came at a time when the appetite for change was high, and the value proposition was one which was difficult to ignore.
The decision to develop the Centre of Expertise model was more than the introduction of a shared procurement service for parts of the public sector. It provided an investment and sent a strong signal to the market and the profession that procurement in the public sector was about to change.