Review of Sustainable Public Procurement Action Plan, 2015-2020

Five Dutch ministries are engaged in Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP): Economic Affairs & Climate Policy, Interior & Kingdom Relations, Foreign Relations, Social Affairs & Employment and Infrastructure & Water Management. At their request CE Delft has reviewed the SPP Action Plan, 2015-2020.The key question addressed was: has the Action Plan helped government agencies pursue Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) with greater vigour and has this lowered environmental footprints? It was also examined what elements stakeholders feel are lacking in current SPP policy and whether SPP is improving sustainability in the marketplace.

SPP having a positive impact
Since 2015 government departments have been stepping up their efforts on SPP. Projects in which it has been effectively deployed help reduce CO2 emissions and environmental footprints and increase the number of jobs for those at a disadvantage on the labour market. These are the main initial results to emerge from this new monitoring methodology. The stakeholders participating in the online survey or interviewed report favourably on the impact of SPP deployment.

A number of recommendations to the government on possible follow-up SPP policy in the period 2021-2025 emerged from the study, including the following:

  • If SPP were to be made less of a voluntary undertaking for local and provincial government (e.g. by setting clear targets or introducing a mandatory annual SPP report), including due enforcement, this would improve its rate of roll-out and increase its impacts substantially.
  • SPP is often fiddly and detailed. Procurement departments would like to see a one-stop ‘counter’ where they can get robust, practical data on specific product groups.
  • To translate SPP policy into everyday procurement practice, there needs to be an improvement of organisational structure at devolved governmental levels. Steps need to be taken to raise the awareness of project principals and coordinators and line managers/directors, and to ensure that SPP becomes embedded in the structure of the entire organisation, by integrating it in standard procedures and documents, among other means.
  • It is important to involve market parties in meetings and gatherings as well as during development of SSP award criteria. Their knowledge can help make such criteria more ambitious as well as more realistic.
  • SSP is a broad issue and clear ownership of it at central government level as well as structural funding can help with all-round application of the various SSP themes.