Public procurement has a key role to play in supporting sustainable economic growth in Scotland. The public sector spends over £8 billion each year on goods, works and services and it is essential that we make the best use of this significant amount of expenditure. Better procurement can significantly improve the quality of services the public sector delivers to the people of Scotland and can release funds for additional frontline services. How we spend this money is also important for our businesses, who rightly expect that public contracts will be awarded fairly, transparently and on merit.
While the public sector in Scotland is made up of many diverse organisations, the fundamental issues that affect public procurement are broadly similar, whichever organisation or sector you work in. John McClelland's Review of Public Procurement in Scotland recognised the need for strong, consistent, policy guidance and his report recommended that a "public sector wide Procurement Policy Handbook should be established offering a standard and well-documented approach to be utilised across all of the public sector". This Handbook has been developed in response to that recommendation. It provides an overarching statement of the fundamental rules, behaviours and standards applicable to public procurement activity in Scotland.
The Handbook describes the key roles and responsibilities in relation to the procurement function and outlines the governance and accountability arrangements that organisations should have in place. It addresses key policy issues: the achievement of value for money for the taxpayer through effective competition; the importance of collaboration at a national, sectoral and local level; incorporating environmental and social issues in public procurement; and fostering innovation through procurement.
The Handbook has been developed in consultation with the Procurement Policy Forum. Membership of the Forum comprises key stakeholders from each sector and representatives from each of the procurement Centres of Expertise. I am very grateful to Forum Members for their contribution to the Handbook. It has also been endorsed by the Public Procurement Reform Board and COSLA.
As Chair of the Public Procurement Reform Board, I expect the highest standards of those involved in public procurement in Scotland and I regard compliance with the principles in the Handbook as essential for all public sector procurement organisations. I expect compliance to feature prominently in internal and external audit scrutiny of public procurement in Scotland.
It is very helpful to have, for the first time, a clear statement of the standards that all public sector procurement organisations are required to meet. Under the Public Procurement Reform Programme, we are committed to establishing and embedding appropriate procurement policy and best practice in order to ensure fair and efficient procurement practices. This Handbook forms the cornerstone of work the Scottish Government is taking forward to deliver this commitment.
Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth