Scottish procurement policy handbook

Rules and standards for public procurement. This document has been replaced with an updated Policy Handbook, published in May 2024.


1 An organisation's policy manual typically provides detailed information about the procurement process and the procedural requirements that should be met by that organisation.

2 Where procurement is devolved within an organisation, responsibility may be spread across a network of procurement officers, including staff with part-time procurement roles, led by a Head of Procurement.

3 See section 3.7 for further information on the Competency Framework.

4 Contracting authorities subject to the duty of Best Value are required to secure continuous improvement in their services, having regard to value for money and taking account of equalities and sustainability.

5 For some staff procurement forms only part of their remit.

6 For further information on developing an output-based specification, whereby contracting authorities identify their needs and invite the market to propose appropriate solutions, see section 14.

7 If necessary, in order to tie in with a collaborative approach, consideration should be given to short-term contract extensions.

8 This is a requirement of the ECJ judgments in the Alcatel cases (Case C81/98 Alcatel Austria and Others v Bundesministerium fur Wissenschaft und Verkehr and C212/02 Commission v Austria) and has been incorporated in the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2006 and Utilities Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2006.

9 In some projects, technical experts/end users have a specific responsibility to prepare an appropriate specification.

10 Work is underway to develop a generic tool for the assessment of minimum standards of governance and accountability for procurement. A link to the tool will be added in due course.

11 Audit Scotland does not audit universities in Scotland.

12 In addition, World Trade Organisation ( WTO) Government Procurement Agreement ( GPA) obligations ensure that signatories to the Agreement, of which there are twenty-seven, have equivalent rights of access to bidding for public contracts in the EU.

13 with some limited exceptions, e.g. relating to defence and national security.

14 Regulation 47 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2006 ( SI 2006 No.5) similarly allows suppliers to bring proceedings in the High Court in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

15 Section 1, Local Government in Scotland Act 2003 places a statutory duty on local authorities to secure best value. Procurement activity which delivers value for money will contribute to the achievement of best value. The achievement of value for money underpins many of the recommendations in the Review of Public Procurement in Scotland.

16 Major projects are defined in the Construction Procurement Manual as those with a total budget exceeding £2 million inclusive of professional fees and VAT.

17 The Suppliers' Charter is available at

18 This requires public sector organisations to ensure "a degree of advertising and follow a procedure leading to the award of the contract which is sufficient to enable open competition and meet the requirements of the principles of equal treatment, non-discrimination and transparency" (Regulation 8 (21), Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2006). This can be achieved by advertising a contracting opportunity on the national portal, Public Contracts Scotland: Contracting authorities may also publish advertisements on their own websites or other portals and in trade or other relevant publications or journals.

19 A bidder who has been convicted of any of the criminal offences listed in Regulation 23(1) of The Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2006 should be excluded from competition unless there are overriding requirements in the general interest which justify that bidder's inclusion.

20 Such guidance should be consistent with organisations' HR policies.

21 The Advisory Group reports to the Public Procurement Reform Board; it has no executive authority to enforce change.

22 Contracting authorities subject to the duty of Best Value are required to secure continuous improvement in their services, having regard to value for money and taking account of equalities and sustainability.

23 Technical specifications must comply with Regulation 9, The Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2006 and Regulation 12 of The Utilities Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2006.

24 All contracts should be made in writing unless there are exceptional circumstances. In this context, it is worth noting that a verbal agreement can create a legally binding contract.

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