Working together to maximise the Power of Procurement
The Public Procurement Group (PPG) and the Procurement Supply Group (PSG) meet annually to discuss the strategic vision and priorities for public procurement. This is an important opportunity for supplier representative organisations and the four Procurement Centres of Expertise to work together to address topical issues, areas of challenge and maximise collective opportunities to further strengthen procurement policy and processes.
While significant progress has been made to ensure the procurement system is as smooth as possible for suppliers, both the PPG and PSG agree that there is always more we can do. At their recent joint meeting they had a positive and collegiate discussion on shared priorities across four interdependent policy areas.
Community Wealth Building
PPG and PSG members discussed the five pillars of Community Wealth Building (CWB), recognising that, in addition to anchor purchasing, public procurement has a role in delivering other pillars too. They reflected on the increasingly rigorous incorporation of related criteria into policy approaches, recognising that there are still significant communications challenges to overcome. While the commitment to a CWB Act is being addressed, both groups agreed to work together to develop a more consistent narrative around CWB and to build on opportunities to share good practice both locally and nationally.
Fair Work First
Fair Work First (FWF) is central to achieving sustainable and inclusive growth as we transition into a period of economic recovery and renewal. PPG and PSG members agreed that FWF must be at the heart of employment practices, funding and procurements. They discussed that some suppliers will be cautious about FWF implementation due to its wider impact outside of contracts. However, they acknowledged that the progressive and supportive policy approach to FWF is taking into account the competing demands that suppliers, particularly SMEs and third sector organisations face.
The cross-sector Climate and Procurement Forum was established to provide leadership and direction and to mobilise the public sector’s procurement spend, to support our climate change and circular economy obligations. PPG and PSG members reflected on significant activity over the past 18 months, including Climate Literacy for procurers to reinforce the imperative to address the climate emergency through all means at our disposal.
They also discussed challenges around supplier engagement and capacity, especially the need to engage with organisations where climate and the environment are not their primary focus. They highlighted, as a good example of a collective approach, the Climate and Procurement Forum’s work to look at standard climate wording, for use across all public sector tender activity.
Buyer and Supplier Engagement
PPG and PSG agreed that only by using all the levers at our disposal can we seek to maximise the impact of public procurement in Scotland. They discussed their collective responsibility to improve communication and engagement across buyers and suppliers; to support improved capability and capacity of buyers, suppliers and supply chains; influence outcomes; and demonstrate impact. They welcomed the recent survey of suppliers, research on the value and impact of the Sustainable Procurement Duty and SME roundtable discussions. They agreed on the importance of continued engagement with suppliers to support a joint understanding of what is working well, where we can do more and where we can do things differently. The procurement annual reports were cited as a good way of capturing progress and PSG members suggested that these should include more examples of good practice in buyer and supplier engagement. Buyer and supplier engagement will also be the main focus at the 4th annual Meet the Buyer North event on 7 September.
Each of the above policy areas are not mutually exclusive and are integral to our aim of creating a strong, innovative and inclusive supply base. The public sector’s considerable, collective spending power of £12.6 billion makes a significant contribution towards helping to improve our economy, society and the environment. Good communications across sectors and between buyers and suppliers is a common thread across all that we do. We will continue to encourage effective engagement across the procurement community and the sharing of good practice and innovative approaches that deliver better procurement outcomes.
Thanks to our latest guest bloggers Ian Howie, Deputy Director, Collaborative and Scottish Government Procurement, and Gillian Cameron, Programme Manager, Supplier Development Programme for providing this update.