'Sustainability test' plan for Scottish deals

2 November 2009

2 November 2009 | Paul Snell

All public contracts in Scotland must undergo a "sustainability test" in future to ensure they are socially, economically and environmentally sensible.

Speaking at the launch of the Scottish government's Sustainable Procurement Action Plan, finance secretary John Swinney outlined the need for buyers to take whole-life costs into account in their purchasing.

"With spending on goods and services of around £8 billion per year, and the pressing need to build sustainability into Scotland's economy, the lead public procurement can take is vital," he said.

The test involves establishing whether requirements can be reduced or avoided, considering the need for whole-life costing and ensuring social, economic and environmental consequences are taken into account. It is currently contained within the action plan, but will be formalised by 30 April 2010.

It forms part of the broader goal of the action plan, which is to provide a framework for sustainable buying in the country. The plan contains a 10-step process for buyers to follow;

  • Commitment within the organisation
  • Making the commitment public
  • Organisational buy-in
  • Benchmarking and progression
  • Prioritising
  • Specifying sustainability
  • Sustainability in the procurement process
  • Working with suppliers
  • Measuring performance
  • Publicising your success

"This action plan sets out a consistent template for public bodies to follow and seeks to ensure that buying decisions will be informed by proper consideration of all the social, economic and environmental impacts - and benefits - relevant to the goods or services being purchased," Swinney added.

* The Scottish government has also announced it is to introduce a national supplier database in 2010, to allow suppliers to register in a single location. This will increase standardisation for buyers and reduce the administrative burden on vendors.

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