Public Procurement and Property

Latest update from the Public Procurement Group (PPG)

October 21, 2021 by No Comments | Category Best practice, Governance, Guest Blog, Procurement news, Public Procurement Group, Scottish Procurement

This blog post provides an update on from the latest meeting of the Public Procurement Group (PPG) which took place in September 2021. The update is provided by Edwina Ryan, Senior Policy Officer within the Scottish Procurement Policy branch and chair of the short life working group which is developing an action plan to respond to the recommendations from the Sustainable Procurement Duty research.

Edwina Ryan: I recently attended the September Public Procurement Group meeting along with Fiona Hughes, from the University of Strathclyde, to present an update to the group on the short-life working group looking into the recommendations of the Research on the Impact and Value of the Sustainable Procurement Duty.  This provided me with an opportunity to both present to senior colleagues but also to shadow and observe senior, cross-sectoral strategic discussions, and I was delighted to be asked to share with you my reflections on the meeting.

It was encouraging to see senior leaders from across the Scottish public sector engaged and committed to delivering on the Public Procurement Priorities for Scotland.

Public Procurement Priorities

It was a great learning opportunity to hear members inputs on specific activity going on in their sector and any issues that they may be facing.  It was really interesting to get an insight into the breadth of work underway across Scotland to deliver against each of the Public Procurement Priorities. In particular.

  • Julie Welsh (Chief Executive – Scotland Excel) highlighted the Scotland Excel ‘Green Webinar’ coming up on 28 October 2021 which will open with a keynote address from Ivan McKee MSP, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise.
  • Gordon Beattie (Director of National Procurement – NHS National Services) discussed the new NHS online portal that links community needs/asks to supplier abilities/ambitions in order to deliver a greater number of Community Benefits.
  • Lynn Wisener (Interim Deputy Director of Procurement eCommerce & Best Practice Division – Scottish Procurement) informed members of Scottish Procurement’s plan to go to market for replacements to the Hub and PCS-T, as well as, procuring a new overarching MI platform.

Climate progress

An update was given on the Procurement & Climate Forum’s activity, emphasising that local leadership and engagement, sector road-mapping and sector strategy development are key to sectoral advancement on climate. Centres of Expertise were encouraged to co-ordinate development activity as it relates to procurement.

The identification and sharing of best practice case studies on climate progress from across the public sector in Scotland were underlined as a useful tool to help support public bodies to deliver on climate commitments.

Members observed that, though setting a sector-wide agenda for responses to the Climate Emergency may be out with their remit, there nevertheless remains a significant engagement role for members to help land key messages and support smaller public bodies.

Update from the Cross-Sector SLWG on Sustainable Procurement Duty Research

This was where Fiona and I provided an update to the group on the work currently underway by the cross-sectoral short-life working group to consider the findings from the Research on the Impact and Value of the Sustainable Procurement Duty.

I presented the group with background information and the five emerging themes that have come out of the research. These being:

  1. Leadership, Accountability & Engagement
  2. Mainstreaming Sustainable Procurement to support consistency of local practice
  3. Development of MI and use of eCommerce
  4. Contract and Supplier Management
  5. Tracking, sharing and publishing evidence

Fiona presented the proposed actions the group is developing to the first three of the above themes, such actions include:

  • The re-establishment of webinars to provide feedback on the analysis of annual procurement reports and give participants an opportunity to discuss the process, supporting guidance and template. Scheduled for 28 Sep and 5 Oct.
  • The establishment of clear national MI/reporting expectations to track performance and inform opportunities for improvement.

Significant discussions followed our recommendations, particularly on the importance of systems enablement, consistency of reporting to support ongoing tracking, assessment, and opportunities analysis with standardised Key Performance Indicators.  Members agreed that the effective deployment of systems, tools and guidance would assist in both sourcing existing examples of good practice and creating the conditions for future success.

It was invaluable to engage in discussions and receive direct feedback from senior leaders across the public sector. The short-life working group has committed to produce an action plan in response to the findings of the research once it has held discussions regarding each of the five key themes, and we’ll be presenting this back to the group at a later date.

Improving Communications & Engagement

It was fascinating to hear from Louise Conetta (Head of Business Management Unit) on the work of the new Scottish Government Procurement Business Management Unit. Louise provided an update on recent activity on Communications and Engagement, which included:

  • The hosting of two focus group sessions with Heads of Procurement, attaining contributions from 91 delegates.
  • The Production of a series of case studies and blogs in the run up to COP26, Scottish Climate Week and the National Procurement Conference
  • The development of a plan to ensure key communications messaging – particularly as it relates to development opportunities – reaches targeted supplier groups.

In addition to the foregoing, members supported the re-establishment of a Cross-Sector Communications Forum, and agreed to support by ensuring consistent membership and attendance.

The Centres of Expertise also highlighted aspects of their own communications and engagement activity currently underway:

  • Julie Welsh shared Scotland Excel’s focus on climate and sustainability ahead of COP26. With current activity comprising the gathering of case studies on best practice, in addition to an article and podcast from an interview with Hugh Carr in this week’s Herald, charting the organisation’s recent activity.
  • Angus Warren (Chief Executive – APUC) outlined APUC’s ongoing weekly meetings of the Heads of Procurement Communications Strategy Group and preparations for a return to face to face meetings with HE/FE Principals to towards the end of the year.
  • Gordon Beattie explained that NHS are currently reviewing their Communications Strategy, transitioning away from the reactive stance necessitated by last 18 months of Covid response, with effort being devoted to creating something more focused, that leverages existing channels to disseminate key messaging.

Sharing Best Practice

Gordon Beattie provided a paper and led the discussion on a proposal for a potential best practice sharing group that pulls together individuals at the category manager or portfolio manager level to support networking, knowledge transfer and enhanced awareness of where discrete areas of knowledge and expertise is present among peers.

Members agreed that such a group could add value, particularly as it relates to the energising of peer networking, peer challenge, and/or the sharing of approaches and practices. However, it was recognised that some of these functions may be fulfilled (in whole, or in part) by pre-existing instruments, such as the Procurement Journey, Knowledge Hub and PPD masterclasses.

The concept will continue to be developed, with input from all members, in order to ascertain the core function and desired feature set of a prospective best practice sharing group.

Procurement People of Tomorrow

I was able to see my own Deputy Director, Nikki Archer, speak briefly to an options paper on Procurement People of Tomorrow (PPoT) and the future of the procurement profession in Scotland. The paper presented 4 options:

  1. Incremental Improvement through continuation of PPoT programme
  2. Establishment of a secondment programme/initiative
  3. Creation of a Public Procurement Recruitment Hub (PPRH)
  4. Establishing a national entry scheme PPoT Recruitment Programme

The group agreed that ambitious approaches to recruitment and personnel development are required to ensure continuity and to support the consistent supply of high calibre candidates for the procurement profession in Scotland.

Members were enthused by the discussion and stated a desire to organise an additional workshop at which PPoT, recruitment, and the future of the procurement profession could be discussed at greater length. A session to this effect has been organised for 19 October, which all CoE representatives plan to attend.


I’m grateful for the opportunity to attend the full meeting and share with members an update on the short life working group’s progress. It was a beneficial experience to observe senior leaders from across the public sector in their discussions and decision making process on the key issues affecting public procurement, and would highly recommend others follow suit!

All activity under the remit of the PPG and PSG aligns to our four ‘power of procurement’ outcomes:

  • Good for businesses and their employees
  • Good for places and communities
  • Good for society
  • Open and connected

For further information on Scotland’s Public Procurement Priorities please click here.

For further information on public procurement in Scotland please visit

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