Social Procurement Australasia Background Doc
SECTION ONE: CLIMATE & CONTEXT
1.1 The evolving context for social procurement policy and practice
As a professional field of practice, procurement is relatively new and as a result to date it has received relatively little investment into its development. Despite this it continues to evolve and, as interest in procurement as a strategic tool grows, at an increasingly rapid rate.
Over the last 20 years or so, a range of initiatives have begun to broaden the understanding of what constitutes ‘best value’ in a procurement context. The introduction of future workforce development planning, environmental considerations, and fair work practices broadened the concept of value to incorporate sustainability principles. More recently, the parameters have broadened further to include (for example) supplier diversity, local economic development, specific employment equity targets and social enterprise procurement. Value as perceived in 1996 is different to how it is perceived in 2016, and will be quite different to conceptions of value in 2026. What constitutes value in the public sector can also differ to how it is understood in the private sector.
In this evolving context, it is increasingly recognised that strategic procurement includes social procurement. SPA’s 2015 Insights Into Social Procurement: From Policy to Practice publication sums up the evolving context as follows:
“. . . thinking around complex policy objectives has contributed to an increased awareness of the strategic potential of procurement as a function. Aligning budgetary spends to deliver maximum ‘value for money’ against policy priorities is now seen as good practice, and as a result a much more holistic understanding of what constitutes value in this context is emerging. The notion that value is achieved simply through lowest price is seen as naïve with considerations of value now being broader . . .” (p.3).
However, to realise the potential of social procurement policies and strategies “. . . new ways of working, new performance measures and investment tools, and new skill sets . . .” (Barraket et al, 2016) are needed. SPA aims to support developments in this space.
1.2 Example initiatives and activity around Australia
This section is provided to given an indication of the type of activity occurring around the country, and so to demonstrate the evolving context and growing interest. It is not intended to be comprehensive.