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Public Procurement and Responsible Business Conduct

Governments are the largest buyers of goods, services and public works.  Public procurement accounts for approximately 12% of GDP in OECD countries and is critical to the delivery of services like infrastructure, health and education. Value for money remains a fundamental principle of public procurement. However, 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 for promoting Responsible Business Conduct (RBC).

Governments can lead by example by incorporating responsible business standards (RBC objectives) in their purchasing policies and practices, to safeguard the public interest and ensure the accountability of public spending.  Integrating RBC objectives in public procurement can provide an incentive for companies to incorporate responsible business practices and risk-based due diligence in their global supply chains.

The OECD project “Public Procurement and Responsible Business Conduct” can help public buyers meet these goals. 

Report: Integrating RBC in public procurement

This report highlights how OECD members and adherents to OECD instruments incorporate RBC objectives and risk-based due diligence into their public procurement systems. The report:

• Highlights the role that risk-based supply chain due diligence can play to support responsible business behaviour through public procurement.

• Encourages public procurement and RBC policymakers and practitioners to collaborate with all relevant stakeholders, drawing on good practices from across policy areas.

• Identifies possible avenues to increase the impact of public procurement strategies to promote RBC objectives.

The report covers countries adhering to the OECD Recommendation of the Council on Public Procurement and to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The analysis is based on a survey with public procurement policymakers and central purchasing bodies conducted in 2020.

Read the full report and policy highlights 

Timeline

  • March 2019: Launch of the Public Procurement and RBC Programme
  • November 2019: Survey to Adherents to the OECD Recommendation on Public Procurement and to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
  • March 2020: Seminar with public procurement practitioners, RBC policymakers and stakeholders: Leveraging Responsible Business Conduct through public procurement (Highlights)
  • October 2020 (Infrastructure and Public Procurement Week): Meeting of delegates from the WPRBC and LPP 
  • December 2020: Release of the report Integrating Responsible Business Conduct in Public Procurement
  • February 2021: Launch of a pilot project on due diligence in the public procurement of garment and textiles, as part of the OECD Forum on Due Diligence in the Garment and Footwear Sector
  • Throughout 2021: Learning series on RBC and public procurement with a focus on specific topics.

The Programme: Objectives and Deliverables

The OECD has launched a programme to advance the integration of Responsible Business Conduct (RBC), in particular risk-based due diligence, into public procurement policies and processes.

Since October 2019,  the OECD has been delivering on three pillars:

1) Research and analysis to support policymaking

The OECD is taking stock of existing practices in countries to integrate RBC objectives in public procurement policies and practices. The research and data collection is a basis for:

• the report Integrating Responsible Business Conduct in 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) Knowledge sharing to promote implementation

The OECD is creating a platform to support peer learning and collaboration in the effective implementation of RBC in public procurement. The platform convenes practitioners, policymakers and stakeholders on public procurement and RBC. It provides a space to exchange on solutions for preventing and mitigating risks in global supply chains, such as through supply chain due diligence in public procurement.

3) Implementation: pilot on the public procurement of garment and textiles

A pilot on risk-based due diligence in the public procurement of garment and textiles aims to support countries in implementing the approach of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct and the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector, tailored to the public procurement context.

Governance

The OECD’s Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct (WPRBC) and the Working Party of the Leading Practitioners on Public Procurement (LPP) oversee this programme. 

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 policymakers 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 govinfoipp@oecd.org   

RBC

Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) is about integrating within the core of businesses the management of risks to the environment, people and society.  RBC principles and standards set out the expectation that businesses – regardless of their legal status, size, ownership or sector – contribute to sustainable development while avoiding and addressing adverse impacts of their operations including throughout their supply chains 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.