Public Procurement and Responsible Business Conduct

Recent examples of human and labour rights violations in supply chains for medical goods, ICT equipment, and food (among others), have underlined the importance of Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) considerations in public procurement.

Governments are expected to lead by example by incorporating RBC standards in their purchasing policies, to safeguard the public interest and ensure the accountability of public spending. While there are increasing international commitments to link public procurement and RBC, there is a lack of practical implementation.

This page outlines the project led by the OECD on this topic.

The Project: Objectives and Deliverables

The OECD has launched a programme to advance the integration of Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) considerations and supply chain due diligence into public procurement policies and processes.

Governments are the largest buyers of goods, services and public works, with public procurement accounting for approximately 12% of GDP in OECD countries. It is cri­tical to the delivery of public services  such as infrastructure, health and education. While ensuring value for mo­ney remains a fundamental principle of the public procurement pro­cess, the concept has evolved to encompass a wider range of consi­derations such as environmental, eco­nomic and social aspects.

This makes public procurement a strategic tool for achieving policy objectives such as the Sustainable Develop­ment Goals, and promoting responsible business practices.

From October 2019 to October 2021 the OECD will carry out 2 work streams:

1) In 2019-2020, the OECD will take stock of existing practices in countries to integrate RBC considerations into public procurement policies and practices. The research and data collection will be a basis for:

  • the development of a compendium of good practices on RBC and public procurement
  • a policy brief on economic benefits for governments and suppliers to integrate RBC in public procurement
  • a policy brief on lessons from other policy areas for the inclusion of social elements of RBC in public procurement.

2) Expected for 2020-2021, this stream will include setting up a platform to convene public procurement practitioners and policy makers to support collaboration in the effective implementation of RBC through supply chain due diligence in public procurement.

Follow-up to this work is expected to continue over 2021-2022, in particular the development of a pilot on RBC due diligence in the public procurement of garment, subject to funding.


This programme is carried out under the auspices of the OECD’s Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct (WPRBC) and the Working Party of the Leading Practitioners on Public Procurement (LPP).

The WPRBC is responsible for furthering the effectiveness of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and promoting RBC globally.

The LPP brings together leading procurement experts and policy makers and is responsible for setting the global standards in terms of public procurement frameworks including the achievement of different policy objectives.

Share good practices

If you want to share good practices, engage or learn more about this project, please contact:


As a first step, the OECD is conducting research and collecting data to map what OECD countries and Adherents to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are doing to integrate RBC considerations into public procurement in terms of policy, regulatory framework and government support.

Surveys are currently being developed and will be sent to public procurement policy makers, public procurement practitioners from Central Purchasing bodies - CPB, National Contact Points for RBC, business, trade unions and civil society.


  • November 2019: Surveys sent out
  • December 2019-January 2020: Answers to the survey submitted
  • 5 March 2020: Meeting between public procurement practitioners and RBC policy makers
  • October 2020 (Public Procurement Week): Final report on good practices


RBC principles and standards require all businesses to avoid and address negative impacts of their operations, while contributing to the sustainable and transparent development of the countries where they operate. This means for example that companies should consider environmental and social issues as part of their core business activities, including in their supply chain and business relationships.

Public Procurement

Purchase by governments and state-owned enterprises of goods, services and works. It refers to the process of identifying what is needed, determining who the best person or organisation is to supply this need, and ensuring what is needed is delivered to the right place, at the right time, for the best price and that all this is done in a fair and open manner.