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Director's Letter - March 2015

8 April 2015

“It is an immense privilege for me to be appointed as Director, Procurement and Commercial. The Directorate (Scottish Procurement and Commercial Directorate, SPCD) is held in high regard, and rightly so for its very significant achievements in recent years. I am really looking forward to taking forward, what I'm sure will be an exciting set of challenges and opportunities to improve the public procurement landscape.

“I joined Scottish Procurement and Commercial Directorate on 16 March and so far, it’s been an education! I’ve been spending the past couple of weeks with the various teams finding out what everyone does.  It's been hugely helpful in giving me, in a short time, an insight into the impact that procurement has on so many areas of the business of government. I've been genuinely staggered at the sheer range and reach of the procurement activities going on across the Directorate, and indeed the sector as a whole.

“What has also come through clearly to me is the enthusiasm and commitment, from both our stakeholders and our staff within government, to make procurement work, and to deliver the myriad of objectives’ that Ministers have set for us. I have seen plenty of examples already in procurement, both large and small, where innovation and creativity is achieving value for money, community benefits, and wider economic opportunities for Scottish based small and medium sized enterprises.

“As we take forward the continuing reform agenda, I know Ministers see procurement as central to helping drive their ambitions for growing the economy, and for tackling inequality to enable more people to share in the prosperity that this growth will bring. Those of us who attended the successful Procurement Capability Event last month will have heard the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, Keith Brown MSP, underline the importance of that, and the commitment to promoting the Living Wage.

“It is apparent that now, is certainly a period of transition for public sector procurement. With the consultation on changes to public procurement rules now in full swing, everyone with an interest in the sector can have their say and submit their views.  The consultation period runs until 30 April and I would encourage everyone, who has yet to do so, to take part.

“I was delighted to see our Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, open a new supported business just recently. The Haven Enterprises site in Larbert brings together three supported businesses and a Centre for Training Excellence in one building. With a combined workforce of 100 people, of whom 95 are disabled people, it is an example of the success that can be achieved in enabling sustainable employment for people with disabilities. The £4m site shows a commitment to the Scottish Government’s policy that every public body should have at least one contract with a supported business, and I wish it every success in the coming years.

“I’m also fascinated to see how technology can play its part in making procurement - and doing business with the public sector generally - easier, faster and less labour intensive for buyers and suppliers alike. We recently launched a new smart phone app to help buyers in the public sector deal with day-to-day procurement processes. The free app now gives users the ability to check and approve requests on the move, as well as other useful, key functions. I’m pleased to announce we have also launched a new eInvoicing system which adds to the current suite of electronic services available to public sector organisations. A number of councils are now benefitting from using the new eInvoicing solution, which can accept a range of invoice formats automatically, and without any technological or cost impact imposed on the supplier. So far, savings of £263,000 have been achieved, even at this early stage.

"The diversity of the activities undertaken by the property team across Directorates and our associated bodies is impressive for such a small team. The work done in reducing property costs and increasing receipts during stringent times is much appreciated, and enthusiasm for their task helping bodies enables us to deliver property results consistently with our need for propriety being manifest. Indeed, another example of the breadth of work at  SPCD was the recent achievement in obtaining the Association for Project Management (APM) corporate accreditation for the Scottish Government. The team shared this success at the Senior Civil Service event on the 25 March at Murrayfield – well done to all involved.

"Finally, construction continues to play a significant role in the current procurement landscape. We've recently added some information to our website on the Review of Procurement in Construction and we are keen to hear your views on the implementation of the recommendations and invite your comments on this.

“I look forward to seeing what else the evolving procurement and commercial landscape will bring for Scotland, its economy and Scottish businesses.

“With the Easter holiday period underway, I hope many of you will have a chance to take a well-deserved break.”

Ainslie McLaughlin
Director, Procurement and Commercial
Scottish Government