Public bodies in Wales spend over £6 billion each year procuring a range of goods, services and works; this represents nearly a third of total devolved Welsh annual expenditure, and it is estimated that over the next decade Welsh public services will spend over £60 billion.

Wales has the opportunity to think about how and where to spend that money in the interest of current and future generations.

Imagine what it could mean if this money was being spent on buying things AND improving the economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being of people and communities in Wales?

The Well-being of Future Generations Act should be the overarching framework for public procurement in Wales. Procurement is one of the seven corporate areas for change in the Act statutory guidance (Shared Purpose: Shared Future, SPSF 1: Core Guidance) and it must be a key area of focus for public bodies in meeting their obligations under the Act.

As the guardian of future generations, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, Sophie Howe has identified Procurement as an area of focus throughout 2019-20. The Commissioner is conducting procurement research to establish the extent to which the Act is informing the procurement process and procurement decisions.

“We need to focus on the outcomes and not the process of procurement.” – Steve Edwards, Director of Regulation & Commercial Wales & West Utilities.

Below are the areas the Commissioner recommends that all public bodies, including Welsh Government, should focus on:

  • Develop leadership that supports a strategic approach to procurement, recognising the ‘power of purchase’ 
  • Procuring well-being: a focus on outcomes and measuring what matters
  • Focussing on longer-term financial planning
  • Promote effective collaboration, with each other and suppliers to improve sharing, learning, capacity and skills
  • Build on established frameworks, including legal
  • Promote a can-do mindset and attitude

For full evidence, assessment, key findings and advice please see the section on Procurement on our designated future generations report website. 

Procurement research & review

Working in collaboration with Cardiff University, the Office of the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales has been undertaking research and engagement with all 44 Public Bodies to find out what progress is being made and identify what further support or guidance may be needed. The team have been attending forums, events and meetings and gathering evidence to explore the opportunities to consistently embed the Act through the commissioning, procurement and contract management processes.

The Commissioner welcomes examples of procurement work that could become case studies. Please email contactus@futuregenerations.wales  FAO: Procurement case studies. 

In addition, there are resources produced by the Office of the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales that may provide further guidance. 

The Art of the possible is one of the Commissioner’s main programs of work, setting out a positive vision for Wales. You can find some advice in these Journeys

The Future Generations Framework has been created to support the public sector and others in Wales to deliver projects and infrastructure fit for the future. 

In light of the current crisis and the additional pressure being place on Public Bodies who are dealing with the impact of COVID-19, the Commissioner has decided to pause the Section 20 Procurement Review that she triggered on March 9th 2020.  

The situation has now been reassessed, considering the potential for a second COVID-19 spike during winter months, and acknowledging the strain on the capacity of Chief Executives, procurement teams and colleagues who will understandably be working hard to manage the impact of the current pandemic.

Rather than undertaking a formal review, the Commissioner has decided to resume her procurement work through  more informal discussions with a small number of public bodies. In addition to our work we are involved in, and supporting connections, with other initiatives supporting the foundational economy, community wealth building and other policy priorities. 

Many examples of individuals and organisations embracing the spirit of the Act during this incredibly difficult period are emerging. Please share any examples you come across at covid-19@futuregenerations.wales

Our work in this area:

Since the Commissioner’s office was established in 2016 we have been looking at how procurement is delivered in Wales in line with the Well-being of Future Generations Act. 

We have raised concerns with Welsh Government and provided evidence to the National Assembly for Wales’ Public Accounts Committee highlighting the fact that procurement policy and practice in Wales has not kept up with the new requirements under the Well-being of Future Generations Act. 

Following these interventions in September 2017, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government, Mark Drakeford AM, initiated a review into the National Procurement Service and Value Wales. 

In order to secure policy and procedural change in this area some of the things we have done include: 

  • Contributed to the Welsh Government review through membership of the Stakeholder Reference Group. 
  • Challenged public bodies to look at how they can use procurement as a vehicle to test new ways of thinking and find ways for procurement to deliver far more than just products and services by utilising the whole life-cycle approach, contributing to the zero waste and decarbonisation agendas and delivering real community benefits, both in Wales and in developing countries. We have been working with a range of organisations including WRAP, Good Practice Exchange and Business in the Community to explore opportunities to collaborate, to challenge and change the way procurement is done in Wales. 
  • Worked with the National Procurement Service (NPS) to influence the development of new food frameworks in the National Procurement Service – The outcome of this work is that 80% of suppliers on the new fresh food contracts are Welsh SMEs. 
  • Included advice on procurement in my statutory advice to public services boards. 
  • Supported Welsh Government’s approach to developing pilots focused on the Act, working with Caerphilly, Torfaen, Monmouthshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire councils to develop an effective and consistent approach for applying the Act to procurement activity in organisations, which can then be replicated across Wales. 

To stay up to date with the Commissioner’s work within procurement see News and Press releases and sign up for the Future Generations Newsletter.