As many organisations continue to edge forward out of at least the immediate impact of the pandemic, there is an increasing narrative calling for them to use this as an opportunity to formulate a ‘new normal’ for the emerging economy.
From various quarters, this is described as an economy that is “fairer”, “sustainable”, “flexible” or “more humane”. But what can public procurement professionals do to contribute towards the new normal? Are they capable of improving social value?
Most procurement and commissioning professionals will have some understanding that there is a requirement to at least consider social value when defining procurement requirements. Social value varies by need, however the overriding consideration is that successful outcomes lead to improved benefits. For example:
There is, however, a nervousness around incorporating social value requirements into procurement. There are a number of reasons for this, however the most often cited is the tension between wishing to improve social value outcomes in the organisation’s location and the risk of potential challenge on the grounds of openness and equal treatment of suppliers across Europe under the Public Contract Regulations 2015.
It is not uncommon for organisations to consider that their desire for improved social value needs to be placed in the ‘too difficult’ or ‘too risky’ pile. This tension continues to exist, however there are actions that public procurement professionals can take:
It is likely that the impacts of the pandemic will continue to be felt for many years to come, whether in our personal lives, our relationships or our financial and economic lives, but can we move forward to improve our procurement and supply chain practices to include wider societal benefits? I, for one, believe we can. We know more now than ever before about the fragility of our supply chains and the importance of resilience; we in procurement are well placed to play our part.
We have talked about the need to improve social value outcomes through procurement for decades, and have even dabbled in its implementation. We can do more.
This article was first published by In Procurement.
This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at July 2020. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.
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