Chapter 5: Procurement
The SLWG identified that procurement could play a key role in driving quality, developing a skilled and competent workforce and increasing capacity. The discussions primarily focussed on Local Authority-led procurement of energy efficiency works in domestic and some non-domestic properties.
Focus on procurement
Research on the procurement of work under the current Local Authority-led Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland: Area Based Schemes, conducted by the Energy Saving Trust, identified a high number of differing approaches, evaluation criteria and procurement contracts across Scotland. This is largely dependent on the purchasing authority and contributes to a high potential for inconsistency which can lead to supplier confusion and low participation rates.
Procurement: a SLWG perspective
EES is likely to involve procurement activity in the private sector, private residential sector, and in the public sector. Each will require different support mechanisms. With regard to the public sector, the SLWG highlighted a number of challenges and opportunities within any potential future procurement as part of Energy Efficient Scotland. For example, SMEs can feel there is a lack of engagement with public sector buyers but at times also complain of having to bid for multiple contracts within a single area that may vary on specification, local authority and on-going contract management requirements. Often, small companies do not have the resources to respond effectively to these challenges. To address this, a lead-in time of 3 to 4 months before bidding for contracts might be helpful.
These challenges provide an opportunity to extend existing successes of public procurement policy and legislation to work with buyers and suppliers, particularly SMEs, participating in Energy Efficient Scotland. Overall the SLWG had one key recommendation relating to procurement as follows:
Recommendation 19. Procurement relating to Energy Efficient Scotland should comply with existing supplier-friendly public procurement policies and legislation, with a particular focus on micro-sized businesses. Scottish Government should continue work with partner organisations to bolster existing guidance to SMEs and where necessary produce programme specific guidance for Local Authorities and COSLA on procurement under Energy Efficient Scotland.
The Supplier Development Programme already provides general support for SMEs through workshops across Scotland and has worked with Energy Saving Trust Sustainable Energy Supply Chain programme to develop a procurement guide and online training modules for suppliers working in the energy efficient market. Both these organisations would be well placed to provide further support for suppliers wishing to participate in the contracts offered through Energy Efficient Scotland.
For buyers this programme-specific guidance could help streamline processes including specifications, standards and community benefits to allow SMEs and especially micro-businesses to participate in Energy Efficient Scotland tenders locally, regionally and nationally.
Buyers should be encouraged to provide adequate lead in times to allow suppliers, particularly micro-sized businesses, to bid for public sector contracts relating to Energy Efficient Scotland. This could be addressed through the publication of a Prior Information Notice (PIN) for work under the Programme and the use of 'Meet the Buyer' events.
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