Government consulting on social value reforms

The government has been evaluating how to deliver more social value through procurement and has launched a consultation paper to develop a new approach.

The social value in public procurement consultation paper addresses social value in the award of central government contracts, and closes in June. This aims to “level the playing field for all types of businesses” and ensure a minimum of 10% social value in contracts.

A new evaluation model has been outlined as a tool for public buyers and suppliers to use to set out and understand social value in award criteria. The model shows key social themes such as safe and secure supply chains, inclusive workplaces, environmental sustainability, and provides possible solutions to improve ways government can deliver these benefits through contract specifications.

Speaking to delegates at Procurex National in Birmingham, Mark Roberts, commercial continuous improvement director at the Government Commercial Function (GCF), said: “The role of social value is ever more critical.

“This is a challenge that is not only faced by the public sector but a number of organisations are championing the need for social value. We recognise that we need to learn from a wider range of different stakeholders.

“We’re looking to capture as much feedback as possible on the role public procurement plays in social value for government.”

The consultation forms part of ongoing work by the GCF to improve government procurement around relationship management, functional processes, capability, risk assurance and controls, functional automation, knowledge and insights, and policy.

Roberts mentioned the Contracts and Spending Insights engine, which has been rolled out across all departments. It has consolidated all contracts and spending information into a simple user interface that “all buyers work with to help them shape commercial activities that they are undertaking”.

Departments are communicating more efficiently with a knowledge dashboard, launched two years ago. This has enabled departments to connect and partner more easily, with improved data sharing, and clear, comprehensive performance measurement.

“We’ve seen a real big transformation in the organisation of people between departments reaching out and asking each other for help. Partnerships of people are working together to help shape and drive improvement in certain areas of their own operations,” Roberts said.

The government is also in the process of simplifying the system for suppliers, following feedback which found someone had “registered in 66 seperate portals across government”, he said.

“We’re trying to make the system is easier to deal with. We’re working with our [crown] reps this year to see how we can simplify doing business with government.”

Roberts said past performance is ever more critical and efforts are being made to ensure information is shared across departments in order to inform on ongoing projects.

“We want to make sure we’re dealing with the right suppliers, that we’re tracking their performance, and we’re also looking at their past performance.”

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