16 June 2008 | Paul Snell
Work on sustainable procurement in the public sector is "patchy" and "significant opportunities are being missed", according to an independent review.
A year-long investigation compiled by the Westminster Sustainable Business Forum and led by Labour MP David Kidney and Action Sustainability director Barbara Morton, found policies were not being translated into practice.
The inquiry found public sector buyers were still struggling to reconcile sustainable procurement with EU procurement law and lacked clear leadership on the topic, reliable benchmarks for whole-life costing and "clear, rationalised" guidance.
The report published 31 recommendations for improvement including that all aspects of sustainability - social, economic and environmental - are addressed and that the government provide long-term forecasts for energy and water prices, which will allow buyers to calculate whole-life value, and more funding for the promotion of sustainable purchasing.
"There have been encouraging steps towards embedding sustainability in the procurement process. But there must be no complacency," warned Kidney. "We need implementation at every level of government."