Meeting the Buyers in Orkney

Meet the BuyerOver 50 representatives of businesses and organisations came together in Orkney on Thursday to hear about public procurement with the council and public bodies.The event was organised  by Orkney Islands Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Councillor Barbara Foulkes welcomed the audience and explained that Orkney Islands Council wished to keep ‘the money in Orkney and put it back into the local economy’.

Gillian Morrison for the council added that OIC had to be ‘mindful of the need to be fair and transparent’ in the procurement process but also had a ‘duty of best value’. In Orkney 45% of the finance for public procurement is spent in Small and Medium businesses which compares to a Scottish average of 20%.

Hayley Greene also on behalf of OIC encouraged members of the audience to look at the OIC Procurement_Strategy_Final and the Forward_Plan_Procurement.

The Supplier Development  Programme has over 10,700 businesses registered and Gillian Cameron, Programme Manager for SDP explained how it can support SMEs with training including webinars. Gillian urged businesses to register a public profile on Public Contracts Scotland . She said that local authorities and public bodies now use this but that it also includes a wealth of information. The SDP was  launched in 2009  and is supported by all 32 local authorities and the Scottish Government.

“The Supplier Development Programme (SDP) is a business support initiative using training and information to improve the competitiveness of local businesses.”

The European Single Procurement Document 2016  (ESPD) “is a self-declaration form used in public procurement procedures by public buyers and businesses in the EU.” The Scottish Government has updated its guidance on this to try and make it more user friendly.

“Before the introduction of the ESPD, companies were required to submit various documents to prove that they fulfil the exclusion and selection criteria of a tender, for example have paid taxes and have not been convicted of criminal activity. Now, companies are able to meet these obligations with a single ESPD self-declaration form. The actual documents will only have to be provided by the winner of the tender. The ESPD service is also integrated with e-Certis – a mapping tool used to identify and compare certificates requested in public procurement procedures across the EU.

It is not known yet how Brexit will affect this.

Procurement for OIC follows the EU thresholds as set down in the ESPD:

  • Less than £10,000 – OIC can go straight to supplier, direct purchase
  • £10,000+ – at least 4 formal quotations are required (Quick Quote)
  • £50,000+ – Tender and advertise required on Public Contracts Scotland
  • Over EU Thresholds – Tender and OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union)

Scotland Excel   established in 2008 is a not for profit service funded by Scotland’s 32 local authorities. Its stated mission is to:

“deliver effective and customer-orientated shared services which support collaborative, innovative and sustainable public services, add measurable value for our customers, and bring tangible benefits for local communities and service users.”

Zoe Shankley, Scotland Excel Customer Account Manager said that : “It is not about large organisations” but about “encouraging innovation and supporting local economies.”

Of its 714 suppliers 72% were SMEs and 79% were Scottish. Unfortunately no businesses from Orkney were registered with them. Shetland SMEs had engaged with them as providers of road stone, freezer products, office furniture and protective clothing.

Scotland Excel champions Community Benefits which have been “incorporated into all contracts developed since 2013 and have supported a wide range of social, economic and environmental benefits for….communities including jobs, apprenticeships and local charity and community initiatives.  “

More information on Community Benefits through public procurement can be found at Ready for Business.

Zoe Shankley stressed the need for early engagement in the procurement process and not leaving bids to the last minute.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame


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