On 14 October 2016, the Crown Commercial Service published a Procurement Policy, introducing a new scorecard system to ensure that major government procurements take into account social and environmental factors and wider economic considerations when designing procurement exercises.
The Scorecard is required to be used by all central government departments, executive agencies and their non-departmental public bodies (together called "In-Scope Organisations") for all construction, infrastructure or capital investment procurements commenced on or after 14 October 2016 with an individual value of £10 million or more.
The Scorecard is essentially a framework of prompts for In-Scope Organisations to consider the inclusion of social and environmental factors in procurement exercises, alongside more traditional criteria such as quality, price and risk. Clients can use a "scorecard" to allow assessment and scoring of seven "Strategic Themes" in relation to a proposed project. These are: (1) Solution Quality; (2) Cost; (3) Supply Chain; (4) Employment & Skills; (5) Environmental Sustainability; (6) Health & Safety; and (7) Outcome Benefits.
Each Strategic Theme has associated Critical Success Factors (CSFs). In-Scope Organisations are required to assess how relevant each CSF is on a case-by-case basis for each particular project. The "scorecard" for each project should demonstrate how CSFs are taken into account in the various stages of a tender. In response to CSF2, for example – "production/ delivery/construction process", clients may note that the specification has been drafted to materials. The guidance also states that not all CSFs will be relevant for every project, and that additional criteria may also be considered.
The guidance sets out examples of circumstances in which particular Strategic Themes and CSFs may be relevant and when and how they can be factored into the procurement process. This information is contained in Annex B "Strategic Themes and Critical Success Factors". A template scorecard is appended as Annex C "Scorecard Assessment."
The guidance provides a useful initial template for identifying how social and environmental criteria can be included in procurement exercises. However, as with any template guidance, it needs to be applied carefully to each procurement exercise on a case-by-case basis, to ensure that all Strategic Themes and CSFs used are reasonable and proportionate. Some of the success measures identified – such as a measure of the number of UK jobs created by the procurement – will need to be handled carefully, so as not to discriminate illegally in favour of bidders who are locally based.
It is not clear whether the Government intends to extend the guidance to cover all UK contracting authorities. Until then, contracting authorities can use the guidance as best practice for their existing procurements, alongside other products like the HACT Social Value Toolkit.