Last Thursday Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon introduced the long-awaited Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill 2013 into the Scottish Parliament.
The Deputy First Minister stated that the changes introduced by the Bill promote "an approach that is both business friendly and socially responsible" and that, by making it easier for the public sector to buy goods and services, the Bill will help to boost Scotland's economy and get people into work.
Amongst others, the Bill includes provisions obliging or requiring contracting authorities:
- to prepare and publish procurement strategies and annual procurement reports
- to consider including community benefit requirements (for major procurement contracts valued above £4,000,000)
- to take into account guidance to be issued by the Scottish Ministers, when preparing pre-qualification questionnaires
If passed, the Bill would enable Scottish Ministers to make regulations as to how Scottish public bodies assess bidder suitability to tender for public contracts in light of concerns over blacklisting and related practices.
As the Bill makes its way through the Scottish Parliament, the debate will touch on a range of issues such as accessibility for SMEs and third sector bidders and the impact of budgetary pressures and public sector reforms on public procurement.
The wider context for the Bill includes The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 which requires English and Welsh public bodies to consider economic, social and environmental well-being when commissioning services and on-going reform of the EU procurement regime due to be finalised later this year.
The full text of the Bill can be found here.