Public procurement offers an enormous potential for providing innovative products and services to European citizens. Used strategically, it can help governments boost innovation at both the national and local level and ultimately improve productivity and inclusiveness. But according to a recent report of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), important barriers remain to make innovation procurement a reality.
With the report, OECD confirms the important role that procurement plays for the improvement of services, productivity, and society as a whole. Based on findings of a survey that OECD conducted among 35 countries on strategic innovation procurement, the report provides evidence that public procurement is a major pillar of strategic governance and service delivery.
Results show that governments are gradually implementing purchasing policies which shall ensure that innovation procurement results in better value for money in the future. Better value can mean improving the ecological footprint of service provision and production, or delivering innovative quality services that respond to specific societal challenges. According to the report, already 80% of responding countries take measures to support innovation procurement, and 50% have developed an action plan for innovation procurement. But challenges remain to make value-based, innovative procurement a reality.
According to OECD, the most common challenges countries face in improving purchasing processes are related to risk aversion, management, personnel and skills capacity and political support. The report therefore calls on political and regulatory decision-makers to define concrete innovation procurement targets within any national, sub-national and regional policies. Procurers would have to be supported by legal frameworks for purchasing processes that include understandable definitions, guidelines and templates to facilitate the implementation of innovation procurement. Furthermore, purchasing bodies should professionalise procurers by providing specific training to build staff capabilities and skills, setting up multidisciplinary teams and competence centres focused on public procurement for innovation. Further, OECD encourages purchasers to dialogue with suppliers and raise collectively awareness of good practice cases, creating dedicated knowledge-sharing platforms and hosting workshops and seminars to share and build success.
OECD sees public procurement as a key tool to respond to existing, diverse societal challenges. By using procurement more strategically, purchasing bodies can stimulate innovation and economic growth while providing value for money and quality services to their citizens.