Majority of OECD countries support social objectives with public procurement but fewer measure...

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
7 July 2015

More than nine in 10 OECD countries have public procurement policies that support socio-economic objectives but the proportion that measure outcomes is “significantly lower”, according to a study.

The OECD’s Government at a Glance 2015 report found 94 per cent of member countries who responded to the survey have policies that support “secondary objectives”, but only 69 per cent measure the results of green procurement policies and 62 per cent measure efforts to support SMEs. Just 11 nations (39 per cent), including the UK, measure the impact of policies that foster innovative goods and services.

The survey found two countries, Estonia and the Slovak Republic, have never developed a public procurement strategy to address secondary policy objectives at the central level.

The report said scant data, lack of an appropriate methodology, insufficient incentives and inadequate financial resources were the main challenges to measuring outcomes.

It found in 2013 governments spent on average 29 per cent of total public expenditure on procurement, down from 30 per cent in 2009. The size of public procurement relative to GDP varied from just over 5 per cent in Mexico to more than 20 per cent in the Netherlands. The OECD average was 12.1 per cent, while the UK spent around 14 per cent.

“Allocating government expenditures efficiently and strategically could help to generate fiscal space, which in turn could enable the realisation of fiscal savings or reallocation of resources,” the report said.

The report said all OECD countries who responded to the survey had central purchasing bodies – such as the UK's Crown Commercial Service – with the exception of Australia, Japan, Mexico and the Netherlands.

It said 94 per cent of states were mandated by law to announce procurement opportunities and provide tender documents electronically but fewer countries provided functionalities related to the end of the process, such as electronic invoices and contract management.

The survey found challenges to e-procurement were to be found around low IT skills (44 per cent), lack of innovative organisational structure (41 per cent) and a lack of knowledge about the economic benefits (34 per cent).

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