Local Authority Commissioning

Local Authority Service Commissioning & Procurement

Staff Survey - April 2009

Context

As part of joint agency work in the Enterprising Third Sector (ETS) Action Plan , and its key objective of opening up procurement opportunities to the third sector, the Service Commissioning and Procurement Survey was developed by the Scottish Government, Scotland Excel and SOLACE.

The survey was designed to find out more about the views, attitudes and experiences of commissioning and procurement staff (in Scotland's local authorities) in relation to Scotland's enterprising third sector. The survey attracted 80 responses.

Main Findings

The report suggests that:-

· there was generally a good level of awareness and some understanding of the third sector amongst commissioning and procurement responding to the survey;

· more than half of respondents described their authorities' relationship with the sector as 'good' or 'very good' with only one in seven describing it as 'poor' or 'very poor';

· there were positive findings about how local authorities maximised opportunities for the third sector to compete for public contracts, however six in ten respondents said that commissioning and procurement could be improved so that the sector can compete more equally;

· there was a degree of uncertainty about how contracts fitted with strategic outcomes and Single Outcome Agreement priorities and timescales, and;

· the survey highlights a need for focussed training for third sector organisations and for local authority commissioning and procurement staff, particularly around Community Benefit Clauses.

Next steps

The findings of the survey will be used by the Scottish Government and its partners to:-

· develop a focused programme of training and awareness-raising in particular around the capability and skills in the third sector, the use of community benefit clauses and examples of good practice;

· inform further developments on up-skilling third sector bodies to effectively bid for public contracts, and;

· ascertain indicators of improvement when re-circulated in the future.

As part of our Economic Recovery Programme the Scottish Government supports the use of Community Benefit Clauses (CBCs) in public procurement contracts. The use of community benefit clauses provides a practical way in which authorities can promote social inclusion, and can be incorporated into public contracts in compliance with legal, policy and value for money obligations to help to achieve a wealthier and fairer Scotland.

The Scottish Government Community Benefits in Procurement Programme has enabled social gains across Scotland with citizens experiencing increased training and employment opportunities through use of these clauses. Most recently Community Benefit Clauses, including social enterprise development have featured in contracts for the Commonwealth Games - Glasgow 2014. The upcoming national Procurement Conference on 28th October 2009 in the SECC will profile the operational use of community benefits in contracts.

John Swinney, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth said:

"The results from this survey illustrate that while there is awareness of good practice, much still needs to be done to ensure that procurement is conducted as effectively as possible. A key finding is that more needs to be done to strengthen the use of Community Benefit Clauses across local authorities.. Building upon previous and current good practice, the Scottish Government is committed to promoting the use of these clauses, and the forthcoming Procurex Conference will provide an opportunity for discussion on their development with stakeholders."

You can view a copy of Local Authority Service Commissioning & Procurement Staff Survey - April 2009