Agenda item

Agenda item

Procurement Update

The Scrutiny Committee has requested an update on the Council’s procurement process. Attached is the current Procurement Policy, with a list of planned amendments to go into the new policy. Annette Osborne, Procurement Manager, will be available to introduce those planned amendments, but would value the input of the Committee in identifying other ideas for inclusion also. She is also available to answer questions concerning the Council’s procurement.

The Committee is asked to consider the update and AGREE any other amendments for inclusion, to be made via recommendations to Cabinet.


Annette Osborne, Procurement Manager introduced the report and explained that the Procurement Strategy had been sent out to the majority of Service Areas within the Council for their input and this was an opportunity for the Committee to recommend any considerations that it wished to be taken into account during the update process. She highlighted that a number of amendments were proposed to bring the strategy up to date, including around:

  • Embedding Social Value within commissioning and procurement decisions
  • Tailoring the national TOMs (themes, outcomes, measures) Measurement Framework into a model that works locally - OxTOMs.
  • Taking into account environmental impact
  • Strengthening GDPR within the strategy
  • Contract management
  • Fostering an inclusive economy and Community Wealth Building

The Committee raised a number of points, including around:

  • Social Value - in response to questions, the Procurement Manager confirmed that the definition of Social Value would not be too prescriptive but would reflect the current description. She confirmed that there would be engagement with suppliers and this piece of work would be undertaken as part of the OxTOMs work.
  • % weightings in evaluation - the Committee was interested in the 10% weighting given to Social Value considerations during the tender process and whether there was reporting/monitoring information to reveal how often the 10% weighting was outweighed by other factors. Questions were also raised about the circumstances under which the % weightings might be increased or decreased for specific tenders, particularly in relation to how environmental and social harm/value were weighed up. The Procurement Manager was proposing to strengthen the environmental aspect within the Strategy update and advised that each tender had a different set of questions depending on the context of the tender. The Procurement Manager agreed to share the environmental questions asked in the last five big tenders with Cllr Imogen Thomas and outline how they impacted the procurement process.
  • Suppliers - the Committee noted that suppliers named in the Strategy document included the likes of 'Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation' and 'Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation', which were not local to Oxfordshire. The Procurement Manager explained that the two organisations named were buying organisations which could present a quicker route to market.
  • Partnership working - in response to questions, the Committee was advised that conversations were being held with the local universities and councils around how they could work better together, but that this was a challenge due to the different organisations managing procurement in different ways.
  • BAME/Women-led SMEs - the Procurement Manager confirmed that the aim to support BAME/Women-led SMEs in order to tackle under-representation in specific service sectors referenced in the original Strategy had been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Oxford Living Wage - the Committee noted that OCC and ODSL both scored '0' on 'Support Oxford Living Wage'. The Procurement Manager confirmed that both organisations support the Oxford Living Wage in their contracts.
  • Community Wealth Building - in response to questions, the Procurement Manager confirmed that her team was working on bringing local anchor institutions together and that the Council had put a big emphasis on doing this.
  • Greenwashing- in response to questions, the Procurement Manager highlighted that when the Council became aware of suppliers making undesirable investments (e.g. Supporting war, oppression, or climate offences through investment) it would investigate, but that there was no resource within the whole supply chain management process to audit every supplier's investments. The Committee said that the Council should push for ambitious change of its Community Wealth Building approach.
  • OCC Companies - following questions, the Procurement Manager advised that ODS had its own procurement system but that OCC currently did all of the buying for OCHL. It was added that in some circumstances, OCC went out to market for the Council and its entities if it had agreement from the companies (e.g. It was about to go out to tender for a lone worker solution which the Council and its entities all needed).
  • Values - the Committee raised that it felt values should always come first before profit during the procurement process within Council companies.

The Committee resolved to recommend to Cabinet that:

·       The Council monitors and reports on how often social value weightings change procurement outcomes.

·       The Council ensures its definition of value for money is consistent with the CWB agenda, and specifically that the Council ensures that it is always measuring value for money alongside other factors relevant to ethical procurement approaches. For example: whole-life cost; returns on good value investment in the local labour force; surplus leakage avoided; and indirect costs associated with lengthening the supply chain.

·       The Council contacts pioneering community wealth building councils for comment as part of its consultation on updating its Procurement Strategy.

·       For its larger contracts, the Council institutes an ethical due diligence check to ensure compatibility of commercial partners with the Council’s own standards (subject to legal advice).

·       The Council provides a description of the principles of that determine its social value weightings in contract tenders.

·       The Council continues, as a matter of priority, to work with anchor institutions locally to develop a shared approach to procurement that enriches the local economy.



Supporting documents: