The Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 13 May and is currently awaiting Royal Assent, before becoming the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014. We issued e-updates on the terms of the Bill as it passed through Holyrood. As well as setting out contracting authorities' reporting responsibilities for procurement, under the Act Scottish Ministers can issue Regulations with further guidance and requirements for public procurement.
The new legislation is intended to enable SMEs, supported businesses and the third sector to access contract opportunities and to encourage efficient procurement practices. In the final debate, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described sustainable procurement as a vital element and said the Bill would make public bodies think carefully about how procurement can improve their areas.
However the Bill has fallen short for some. Co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, Patrick Harvie MSP sought greater promotion of sustainability in procurement and would have wished the Scottish Government to enact legislation to test EU law in relation to the living wage. In response, Nicola Sturgeon said that it would be unacceptable to amend the Bill to require contracting authorities to adhere to the provision of a living wage in procurements, since it would create "a bill that sought to impose requirements on public bodies to do things, even if they were not compatible with European law."
Following Royal Assent, the Scottish Government is to consult with stakeholders on the terms of Regulations to be enacted under the new legislation.
Once in force, we expect substantial change for both contracting authorities and bidders alike in the arena of procurements falling below EU thresholds. In particular, contracting authorities will need to revise standing/contract orders and committee programmes and processes. Bidders will need to be aware of new processes for such procurements and rights that they now will have.