Leading London to smarter procurement
The Greater London Authority (GLA) group of public sector organisations is working to embed responsible procurement across its spend of more than £3.4bn a year on goods and services essential to London.
The progress of the group and its Central Responsible Procurement Team in delivering long term value to London is highlighted in its 2010 Responsible Procurement progress report, Unlocking public value, while the recent 2010 Mayor’s Responsible Procurement Awards recognised the contributions of suppliers to the GLA group and its own staff in using procurement to deliver value for London.
Introducing the annual report, Mayor of London Boris Johnson said:
The work [of the GLA Group in delivering environmentally and socially responsible procurement] is genuinely pioneering and forward-thinking. It is setting the benchmark not just for other regional authorities in the UK, but also for others beyond our shores. And in highlighting our progress on responsible procurement, this year we can see that, once again, London is leading the way – and that is a source of real pride for us all.
Responsible procurement in the GLA Group
The buying power of the five bodies that comprise the GLA Group – Transport for London (TfL), Greater London Authority (GLA), London Development Agency (LDA), London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) and Metropolitan Police Authority/Service (MPA)/(MPS) – brings responsibility and opportunity:
- Responsibilities to ensure that procurement is fair and transparent;
- Opportunities to use its purchasing power to create social, economic and environmental benefits for people, businesses and the city.
The GLA Group calls this responsible procurement:
It means delivering value for money and a better quality of life through procurement practices for ‘our people’ through the provision of sustained employment opportunities and improved standards of living; ‘our businesses’ through opening up opportunities for London’s businesses and encouraging improved practices with our suppliers; and ‘our city’ through the promotion of greater environmental sustainability and making London a better place to live and work.
Progress on responsible procurement in 2010
The GLA Group and its Central Responsible Procurement Team (CRPT) are playing a leading role in increasing the understanding and adoption of responsible procurement practices across the public and private sector, at regional, national and European levels.
Delivering Mayoral priorities
Responsible Procurement has been a key tool in delivering a number of mayoral policy priorities, from providing improved standards of living through paying the London Living Wage and employment and training opportunities through GLA group supply chains, to encouraging improved equality and diversity practices from suppliers and promoting a low-carbon, resource-efficient London economy:
- The London Living Wage, established to ensure workers in low-paid jobs receive a wage that reflects the Capital’s high living costs, continues to be included in all GLA group contracts as part of responsible procurement practices. In November 2010, 17 new organisations committed to paying the higher rate. Once this is implemented, almost 9,000 London workers, across 115 London organisations, will have benefited from the uplift.
- Responsible procurement is also an important means of achieving the Mayor’s vision of ‘Equal Life Chances For All’, which ensures that the GLA group’s procurement process is open to all, including SMEs, diverse suppliers and the voluntary sector. It is also about helping suppliers improve their own equality and diversity practices.
- To help meet the Mayor’s aspiration for a low-carbon London fourteen GLA Group suppliers are monitoring and reporting their greenhouse gas emissions. These suppliers range from large construction companies, to providers of fire-fighting uniforms, to SMEs providing vehicle recovery services, and are working with the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).
- The group has also been working proactively with key suppliers to open apprenticeship, employment and training opportunities to develop young Londoners’ skills.
A worker on the London Living Wage
Training and learning
Training is key to embedding responsible procurement across the group and over 200 procurement staff have been trained, giving them greater knowledge and the confidence to include responsible procurement provisions into contracts. The CPRT is now coordinating the delivery of the National Sustainable Public Procurement training programme for GLA group functional bodies and London boroughs.
To ensure access to information about responsible procurement, the CRPT launched a free, easy-to-use online responsible procurement learning tool in April 2010, providing five interactive units on key themes, case studies and information on support programmes. Two eLearning toolkits are now available, for procurement staff and for suppliers.
Collaboration and networking
The CRPT has brought London boroughs together in a new Responsible Procurement Forum to share experiences and expertise in implementing responsible procurement and consider common opportunities and challenges. The forum first met in October 2010 and will continue to meet quarterly.
At a national level, the CPRT took over as chair of the National Sustainable Commissioning and Procurement Programme, which works to increase awareness and understanding of sustainable commissioning and procurement, champion good practice and provide a link between policy makers and procurers across the public sector.
The GLA group is also playing a leading role in a new European network to promote innovation in the field of sustainable construction. The SCI-Network (Sustainable Construction and Innovation) was launched in May 2010 to establish a pan-European network of public bodies and industry experts committed to driving innovation in the field of sustainable construction through public procurement, and sharing their experiences.
The Mayor and Ron Dobson, LFB Commissioner, inspect a solar panel on the roof of Ilford fire station (featured as a case study in Unlocking Public Value)
The GLA group is always striving to improve the way it delivers responsible procurement. By sharing and comparing responsible procurement best practice with other leaders, a lot can be learnt. The CPRT recently led an independent review into the responsible procurement practices of a group of leading public and private sector organisations in the UK, in order to see how other organisations approach responsible procurement, and measure and report on their progress.
The group is particularly interested in whole-life costing to quantify the overall price of products or services over their lifetime. The CRPT is investigating various methodologies to find the most suitable for the GLA group.
Supporting smaller businesses
London’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are vital to the Capital’s economy. The GLA group are committed to ensuring that SMEs can compete for group contracts on a level playing field with larger competitors.
The group has made significant progress in making it easier for SMEs to gain access to and win GLA group contracts, including improving performance in paying SME invoices within 10 working days and mainstreaming the use of the CompeteFor online supplier brokerage system. The group has also rolled-out standardised low value pre-qualification questionnaires and obtained feedback from SMEs to improve its procurement processes.
Recognising the contribution of suppliers and staff
The 2010 Mayor’s Responsible Procurement Awards were given to suppliers and staff in six categories: environmental sustainability, ethical sourcing, equal life chances for all, supplier diversity, skills and employment, and community benefits. A full list of winners and highly commended is available on the Responsible Procurement website.
Richard Barnes, Deputy Mayor of London, presents the supplier award for Outstanding Contribution to Responsible Procurement to Lakehouse
Richard Barnes, Deputy Mayor of London and Sponsor of the Responsible Procurement Programme, explained the importance of the awards:
“In these challenging times we must reward those who excel in their field. The RP Programme is a great advert for how the public sector can work effectively and efficiently to deliver front line services whilst ensuring that Londoners are included in what it has to offer going forward.”
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