There has been a lot of discussions during recent years regarding socal and environmental criteria in public procurement. Read for instance my blog posts from May 26 2011, July 9 2010, June 17 2010, March 11 2010, and Dec 1 2009.
There are still some question marks existing, although the situation is much better and more stringent today due to recommendations and procurement criteria from Miljöstyrningsrådet (in English ”The Swedish Environmental Management Council”) and to the joint program for sustainable procurement and code of conduct approved by all Swedish County Councils:
The Swedish Association of the Research Based Pharmaeutical ndustry, LIF, generally welcomes green and social criteria as long as they are fair and reasonable, connected to the product and/or service that is being procured, in compliance with the applicable regulation (”Lagen om Offentlig Upphandling”), and is being followed up. We have seen problems with the latter. Serious suppliers work very hard to respond correctly and professionally to all questions being asked in the tenders and it is un-fair and a waste of resources if the responses are not taken into account or performance is not followed up. A general feeling is that to often still ”lowest price wins regardless of social and environental performance”, or any other type of ”quality related” performace for that matter…
Due to this feeling that there is still room for improvement regarding follow-ups of the green and social crireiria for instance, I am very happy to see that Konkurrensverket (in English ”Swedish Competition Authority”) just recently issued a document called ”Miljöhänsyn och social hänsyn i offentlig upphandling” (read the press release and the full document (in Swedish)). One of the things they point out very clearly is that the criteria and the performence must be followed-up:
”Det är viktigt att de som ställer krav på till exempel miljöhänsyn eller sociala villkor också ser till konsekvenserna. Till exempel måste det finnas system för att kontrollera att kraven verkligen blir uppfyllda, säger Konkurrensverkets generaldirektör Dan Sjöblom.”
The document stresses also for instance the importance that criteria are relevant and appropriate for the product/serive being procured and that the critera must be founded on solid science. Konkurrensverket also cleraly states that alternative evidence for fulfilment of the crieteria, other types of evidence than the ones exemplified in the tender, have to be accepted. To me this is important since it is quite simple to just ask for e.g. an environmental certificate (e.g. ISO 14001), but it does take resources to evaluate performance when we describe our full environmental and CSR-programs to show real green and social high performance.
The document from Konkurrensverket is thick, and it takes time to read it, but it is very welcome initiative!