Public Procurement Survey of Suppliers: analysis 2020

An analysis of findings from the Public Procurement Survey of Suppliers 2020.

1. Introduction


This report provides a summary of findings from the Scottish Government's survey of suppliers, which we carried out in Autumn/Winter 2020.

The survey was the first of its kind to gather supplier perspectives on a range of topics of key importance to public sector procurement in Scotland. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • organisations' experiences of bidding for and/or delivering Scottish public sector contracts;
  • the provision of training, support and advice on tendering for contracts;
  • barriers to bidding for and/or delivering contracts;
  • the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on suppliers.

In exploring suppliers' views on procurement within the 'Scottish public sector', we focused on procurement involving public sector bodies which are based in Scotland and which relate only to Scotland. This includes, but is not limited to, the Scottish Government and the 32 Scottish local authorities, as well as Scotland's NHS, universities and colleges, and registered social landlords.[1]

The feedback gathered through the survey – and the analysis of the responses presented in this report – will be used to inform future thinking on the delivery of public procurement in Scotland. The findings will be invaluable in helping us to identify those areas of policy and practice where we are doing well and to understand the impact of recent changes in legislation – in particular, since the passing of the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014.

More importantly, the results will also identify areas where we could be doing more – or doing things differently – to maximise the impact of public procurement and to ensure that we are supporting the delivery of public services that are high quality, continually improving, efficient and responsive to local people's needs.


Our survey of suppliers was carried out over a six-week period between 2 November and 11 December 2020. Designed using the Questback online survey software, the survey comprised a total of 67 questions. Most of these questions were closed questions, inviting respondents to select their answer(s) from a list of pre-determined options. The survey also contained some open-ended questions which enabled respondents to share their views in more detail. The full list of survey questions can be viewed in Appendix 1.

In order to maximise the number of responses, we adopted a multi-faceted approach to promoting the survey. This involved issuing survey invitations to suppliers registered on Public Contracts Scotland (PCS) and key stakeholders from business representative groups, including the construction sector. We publicised the survey on our Scottish Procurement social media platforms and also through our stakeholder groups – in particular, the Procurement Policy Forum, the Public Procurement Group, the Procurement Supply Group and the Supplier Development Programme.

Our survey attracted a total of 1,556 responses and we undertook a full thematic analysis of the responses received.[2] Given the vast number of responses, the analysis of the qualitative data contained within the open-ended responses usually involved coding a randomly selected 10% sample of responses to each question to identify key themes and the random selection was re-run for each open-ended question. This was the approach followed unless otherwise specified in the report. After these random samples of responses were coded, the full set of responses to each open-ended question were scanned to ensure that all major themes were captured in the analysis.

Suppliers were made aware that their participation in the survey was voluntary and all respondents were provided with a privacy notice before beginning the survey. At all stages of the research, all of the necessary steps were taken to ensure that the survey complied with GDPR guidance and to ensure the anonymity of respondents. All quotes used in this report have been anonymised, with any potentially identifiable data being redacted.

Structure of the report

The rest of this report is structured as follows:

  • in section two, we provide a full overview of the profile of survey respondents;
  • in section three, we present our findings from the summary and highlight the key themes arising;
  • in section four, we provide a summary conclusion, bringing together the key messages from the research and setting out next steps.



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