Scottish Public Procurement

The Scottish public sector spends over £11 billion each year on goods, works and services.  These contracts vary in size, value, complexity, type of contract and geographical area across Scotland and as a result there could be a number of opportunities you could bid for.

As public sector procurement officers spend taxpayers money there are strict rules on how they can buy goods and services. These rules vary depending on the type and value of the contract.

Public procurement is a key partner and enabler to deliver Scotland’s economic strategy.

The Scottish Model of Procurement puts procurement at the heart of Scotland's economic recovery: use the power of public spending to deliver genuine public value beyond simply cost and/or quality in purchasing.  This value for money triangle shows that the Scottish Model of Procurement is the best balance of sustainability, cost and quality. 

This model is owned by the Scottish public sector: to work together to develop strategic relationships with key business and Third Sector organisations.

Scottish Public Sector Bodies

There are a large number of public bodies in Scotland who can procure goods and services in a number of ways.  The method used depends on what is being bought and which organisations are involved i.e. a public sector body can:

  • buy goods and services for their needs only.  This is sometimes referred to as a Category C procurement or a local procurement.  An example is window cleaning;
  • join with other organisation(s) at a local level to procure goods and services for all to use.  This is sometimes referred to as a Category C1 or a regional procurement.  An example may be courier services;
  • use another organisation, known as a Centre of Expertise,  to procure on their behalf.  This is sometimes referred to as a category B or sectoral procurement.  Examples are wheelie bins or medical equipment;
  • utilise Procurement Scotland contracts.  These are national contracts that are sometimes referred to as a Category A procurement.  Examples are IT equipment and office supplies.

Collaboration

Collaboration or collaborative procurement, is where buying organisations work together to procurement goods and services for the use of all of the buyers named.  This normally occurs to procure goods and services that are common amongst all of the buyers e.g. landscaping.  Collaboration can occur at national, sectoral, regional or local level.

Centre of Expertise

A Centre of Expertise awards contracts on behalf of different parts (or “sectors”) of the public sector. They also work to improve processes and collaboration between public bodies.

These Centres of Expertise are:

The below table illustrates further with some contract examples:

Category A

Collaborative Contracts available to all public bodies

  • Scottish Procurement

Category B

Collaborative Contracts available to public bodies within a specific sector

  • Scottish Procurement
  • APUC
  • Scotland Excel
  • NHS National Procurement
Category C Local Contracts for use by individual public bodies
Category C1 Local Contracts for use by individual public bodies

Please refer to Tenders to find out further information about the types of contracts that a public sector buyer may use.

What We Buy

The public sector buys a wide variety of goods and services. These can cost anywhere from a few hundred pounds to many millions of pounds. They can be relatively simple – buying readily available products – to being extremely complicated and/or innovative.  The Supplier Journey provides guidance on goods and services:

Goods

These contracts relate to the purchase of goods or products. This may include siting, installation or other related services and can be for the purchase, lease, rental or hire purchase of products. Examples of these are contracts for ICT equipment, stationery and office furniture.

Services

Services contracts are awarded for services of every description. Examples of these are contracts for cleaning,  facilities and management services and legal services. 

Where Can I Find Out More?

It is a legal requirement that all public bodies publish an internet based contract register detailing all contracts advertised and awarded after 18 April 2016 which are worth at least £50k for goods and services.  Some public bodies publish their contract register in their buyer profile area of or may publish this via their own website.

The Scottish Government also publish Scottish Governement spend reports.  This is another good source of information when researching your market.

Types of Contracts

A contract is an agreement made between two or more consenting parties that is legally binding.  In procurement there are several types of tender processes that can be used to put in place a contract e.g. quotations, framework agreements, etc.  More information on these types of contracts can be found in their respective stations under Procurement Procedures and Procurement Processes.

Legislation

Legal Requirements

All public sector procurement must comply with European and Scottish legislation. These do not allow contracts to be awarded on the basis of the location or size of a supplier.

European Law

The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) fundamental principles form the basis for the three 2014 European Procurement Directives which set out detailed rules for the purchase of goods, services and works by public bodies.

Scottish Law

As of 18 April 2016, public procurement in Scotland is governed by a legal framework which includes:

Regulations implementing the 2014 European Procurement Directives into Scots law:

More detail on procurement legislation is available on the Scottish Government Website.

For the purposes of the Supplier Journey, we use 'public procurement rules' as shorthand to describe the above legal framework.

Local Financial and Standing Orders

In practice, public procurement rules are embedded in a local organisation’s own policies and procedures - often called financial or standing orders. These will usually put in place local arrangements for dealing with contracts - including lower value contracts which may not be covered by procurement legislation.