Responsible Procurement – delivering the aspirations


Sustainability is a complex issue. Many people associate it with issues such as climate change, air pollution and recycling, but it is far more than that. The starting point is the 1987 UN Bruntland Commission. This identified four interrelated development strands for implementing sustainable development – Societal, Environment, Culture and Economy. These four strands were underpinned by 15 specific goals which form the foundation for much of today’s sustainability policy across all UK sectors.

Our sector’s commissioning, procurement and contract management work (worth roughly £55Billion each year) is rightly seen as having a crucial role to play in delivering our sustainability policies. But how well is your council prepared to use it commissioning work to make a difference with the broader sustainability agenda? Analysis by EELGA Talent Bank associates, Ken Cole and Rowena Ward, show that there are significant gaps between publicly stated aspirations and the reality, and it is not simply due to lack of commitment or inadequate funding levels. Many simple organisational issues such as alignment to core goals and even basic communication play a significant role in restricting progress.

Using their diagnostic platform – they have built a Responsible Procurement Diagnostic that measures 25 value codes based on the four UN development strands. These value codes define the critical success factors that determine the extent to which responsible procurement policies are likely to become a reality in any council. Each value code has a sliding scale of 5 defined outcomes against which elected Members, officers and even external partners can self-assess against the issues that matter. It is an entry level tool allowing any council or public body to check whether their sustainability plans and policies are like to become a reality.

Figure 1 – Screenshot of the diagnostic.

Figure 1 is a screenshot of some of the value codes in the diagnostic, which is currently being tested and peer reviewed. Full details will be publicised to members later this Spring via a webinar. Please contact [email protected] to register your interest in the Webinar or to find out more about using it in your council.