Work to promote the incorporation of social and environmental considerations in public procurement is being progressed under the National Public Procurement Policy Framework which is the overarching policy framework for public procurement in Ireland. Under this framework, proposals to implement environmental considerations in public procurement are being developed through the Social Considerations Advisory Group which is chaired by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP).
Circular 20/2019: Promoting the use of Environmental and Social Considerations in Public Procurement was published in October. The circular, an action under the Government’s Climate Action Plan, was developed by the OGP in conjunction with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE). The circular directs Government Departments and Agencies to consider including environmental criteria in their procurements, where such clearly defined, quantifiable, verifiable and measurable criteria have been developed. These criteria should, if they are relevant to that procurement, be met within a Department’s existing budget without impacting on service delivery.
An overarching objective of all public procurement is the achievement of value for money. In implementing environmental considerations in public procurement, it is crucial that an approach is adopted that will further Government policy while also ensuring a competitive market place where suppliers can compete resulting in the desired pricing outcome. In areas where the market is not yet sufficiently competitive, a phased approach to environmental considerations in public procurement may be necessary to encourage the emergence of new suppliers with innovative solutions. Care should also be taken to ensure that the addition of environmental considerations to public contracts is done in a manner that does not mitigate against small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) as they may not be in a position to bear the additional costs or administrative burden.
The public service must demonstrate its commitment to sustainable development and use its influence to persuade others of the changes required to reduce our impact on the environment. By providing leadership in terms of environmental considerations in public procurement, public bodies can underpin the credibility of national environmental policy objectives and enhance Ireland’s image as a 'green' economy.