News In Focus
Ministers pledge procurement improvements
A review of public procurement to improve Scottish businesses’ access to contract opportunities has been announced by the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment, Alex Neil.
The announcement comes after a row broke out over why the steel for the new Forth crossing will come from outside Scotland.
Mr Neil said the time was right to commission "a root and branch review of construction procurement across the public sector, with a view to tackling industry concerns and ensuring that procurement practices deliver best value for Scotland’s economy". A further announcement with detailed proposals will be made shortly, but the review will set out to help ensure that the construction sector and its public sector clients raise their performance in the procurement process, making best use of available project skills.
Ministers plan to introduce a Sustainable Procurement Bill during the present Parliament to ensure that public bodies adopt transparent, streamlined and standardised procurement processes that maximise opportunties for Scottish businesses.
Mr Neil said: "I have spent a lot of time in recent months engaging with businesses and others who have concerns about public procurement.
"The Scottish Government has done a great deal to improve the way the procurement system operates in Scotland, but clearly there is still room for significant further improvement, both in relation to efficiency and the extent to which Scottish businesses are able to access contract opportunities."
He added: "Many of the issues that have been raised with me have related to the construction sector. This sector is facing particular challenges in the current economic climate and many of the improvements we have introduced to public procurement have had limited impact as our work on improving practice has been focused largely on goods and services rather than construction."
The public sector spends over £2bn per annum on construction related contracts.