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Director's Newsletter March 2014

In like a lion, out like a lamb, they used to say about March.  Well if the rain lashing against the office window is anything to go by; it’s a very cross lamb indeed!  This month sees the Scottish Procurement e-bulletin pass the 8,000 subscriber mark (sorry, the technology doesn’t allow us to identify the 8,000th subscriber otherwise I’d have given them a prize).   When I started these (roughly) monthly newsletters, we were uncertain how they’d be received, but felt it was the right thing to do, supplementing business news with more personal commentary on developments in procurement.  I always welcome feedback, whether on my letters or other news sent out through the e-bulletin.

The Scottish Model continues to attract international attention. My first ever webinar, on the Scottish Model and the use of mediation in contract management, organised through the IACCM, attracted over 200 participants from every continent.  I was also very pleased last month to welcome to Scotland a team from the Republic of Ireland, headed by their Chief Procurement Officer, Paul Quinn.  The Irish Government is embarking on the process of procurement reform, and Paul and his team have ambitious savings targets and are driving a strong agenda for change.

The launch of Central Government Procurement Shared Services (CGPSS) took place on 1 April.  This has long been an ambition of mine, to create a unit within the Scottish Procurement and Commercial Directorate to offer professional procurement services to organisations across the Central Government Sector in Scotland.  CGPSS will provide support across all required aspects of procurement activity, tailored to the needs of individual organisations.  Its offerings range from the provision of a fully managed service through to bespoke contracting for specific requirements.  This flexible but practical approach, drawing on the experience of Scottish Procurement, will set a new benchmark for excellence in the delivery of shared services in the Scottish public sector.  Find out more.

This spring is an exciting time for Scottish Procurement.  The Reform Bill passed Stage 2 of the Parliamentary process last month.  That is the “Committee phase”, where each section of the bill is examined by the lead Parliamentary Committee (the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee), and amendments are tabled and discussed.  We had over 80 amendments in total, so it meant some marathon sessions, but the Bill has now been approved to pass on to Stage 3, the final leg of the process, which we expect to be in May.  From there it goes on for Royal Assent, and then, like a caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly, it moves from being a Bill to being an Act of Parliament.

That’s when the work really starts.  Much of the Bill is about enabling powers, and it will be a significant effort to develop the statutory guidance and regulations that will follow – we have committed to wide consultation on these, and to dovetailing them with plans for the transposition of the European Directives.  These have now been published on the EU website, essential holiday reading.  They formally enter into force on 17 April.

Taken together, the Bill and the Directives will put a sound statutory framework around the Scottish Model of Procurement, simplifying standardising and streamlining procedures for businesses and public bodies alike; and placing sustainable and socially responsible purchasing at the heart of the process.

Finally, I was delighted at the success of the Scottish Government Procurement Team at the UK National GO Awards in March, pronounced winners of the GO Sustainability or Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative Award and Highly Commended in the GO Best Service Award.  The winning entry related to the £65 million Gartcosh Crime Campus project, a great example of team work and innovation across Scottish Procurement in using procurement to support sustainable and environmentally-friendly economic regeneration through community benefits, job creation, recycling and the advertising of sub-contracts to embed responsible purchasing throughout the supply chain.  Worth remembering that the outstanding work of the SG Team itself built on work done by others in the Directorate and across the wider public sector on a range of good practice guidance and systems.  More evidence of the strength of the Scottish Model. Find out more.

Alastair Merrill