As you may know, MSR (Miljöstyrningsrådet, in English: The Swedish Environmental Management Council) and Swedish County Councils (through Pauline Göthberg at Stockholm County Council (SLL)) run a joint project to develop a "supplier database" to enable follow-ups of social criteria within the public procurement process. For earlier blog posts on this issue please read e.g. March 13 2012, April 24 2012, and May 30 2012.
The reference group assigned, with representatives from a several stakeholders such as LIF (i.e. myself), SKL, SKL Kommentus, Swedish MedTech, SL, FMV, and the Public Procurement Committee, met today to discuss the project. It is very interesting to follow how the project develops. It is clear that everyone around the table understands the value of such a tool, and principally agrees that this is a good way forward. But as we often say - "the devil lies within the details"... We had long discussions about the possible legal challenges and obstancles that have to be overcome in order for the County Councils to launch the tool successfully. A lot of these challenges of course come from the public procurement directive (and here in Sweden LOU, Lagen om offentlig upphandling): Which criteria and/or requirements are OK, and which ones are not? We also discussed the issue around confidentiality. What type of information that potentially will be (or in an ideal world should be) disclosed from certain suppliers would have to remain confidential in order not to commercially hurt the company. Some companies may have unique qualities in their supply chain management programs that present a competetive edge for them compared to the competitors.
I really hope that we will find good solutions to the challenges identified. I personally feel very positive to the approach taken by MSR and the County Councils: They strive to find a platform for dialogue and collaboration, rather then acting as a "inspection driven police force". The process for the program will be finally outlined during fall, and there will hopefully be possible to launch a small pilot version of the tool fairly soon in order for a "lessons learned" session to take place before year end.
Stay tuned - more to come on this important topic during fall! And let me restate what I (and many other stakeholders) have said previously: We hope that the tool eventually will encompass not only the social criteria but also the environmental ones. The synerigies of such an approach is obvious.