The Challenging Procurement Link Library

The complexities of buying and selling in public sector markets can be a significant hurdle and there have been many reports produced aimed at helping to showcase the range of possibilities open to innovative procurement teams. However, as part of the Challenging Procurement series, we recognise that many procurement teams don’t have time to read and keep up to date with all of these reports, we have put together a list of hyperlinks to some key reports, highlighting some of the key findings which we hope is a useful resource that we can build on over time.

State of the Art in Innovative Procurement Practices

The following publications provide some best practice in innovative procurement.

Innovative Procurement: Guidance and good practice on buying innovative products and services

Publisher: European Commission, May 2018

This provides good practice on buying innovative products and services in the EU, setting out the reforms to the public sector buying rules and how this makes procurement more friendly to SMEs and start-ups. Changes to the rules include:

  • reducing administrative burden with the ability for tenderers to provide a self-declaration indicating whether they fulfil all administrative prerequisites
  • public buyers can no longer require turnover higher than two times the estimated contract value, unless duly justified by specific circumstances
  • public buyers are required to consider using lots. This is to facilitate the participation of smaller innovative suppliers and foster the move to more open, interoperable solutions
The art of the possible in public procurement

Publishers: BWB, E3M and HCT Group

This report builds nicely on the EU best practice guidance above, detailing how the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 provide Commissioners with a the flexibility to achieve the outcomes they seek for their communities. The purpose of this publication is to highlight some of the flexibilities, how to unlock them and some of the practical things that can be achieved within the scope of the law.

Encouraging innovation in local government procurement

Publisher: Local Government Association, 2017

This report makes recommendations on the policies and practices that local government could follow to encourage innovative procurement. This review covers goods and services, and also examines the innovative aspects of integrating social value into procurement.

The ICT Commissioning Playbook

Publisher: Government Digital Service, Cabinet Office, supported by Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

The playbook focuses on ICT procurement reform and its part in the wider digital transformation of the public sector in countries around the world. Its goal is to show how traditional procurement can evolve towards agile procurement.

Government’s outsourcing playbook

Publisher: Government Commercial Function, February 2019

The government’s Outsourcing Playbook, which has been designed to improve how government works with industry and deliver better public services. This include approaches to piloting service delivery where a service is to be outsourced for the first time, such as through proof of concept, and use of the Innovation Partnership Procedure. It also looks at the use of the balanced scorecard approach to contract evaluation to also look at social value.

Urban Innovation; UK Procurement Programme; Urban Development; Innovation Procurement
Reports outlining the need for innovative procurement

The reports below set out the case for change, why innovation is so central for place leaders to meet local challenges, the role of procurement and some of the change needed in public sector to stimulate innovative procurement.

OECD Declaration on Public Sector Innovation

Publisher: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), May 2019

The UK Government are a signatory of the OECD Declaration which is an official OECD instrument for the Public Sector to ‘Declare to Innovate’. It establishes five principles, and associated actions, that governments or public organisations can use to inform (or enhance) innovation and its management. This includes:

  1. Embrace and enhance innovation in the public sector
  2. Encourage and equip all public servants to innovate
  3. Cultivate new partnerships and involve different voices
  4. Support exploration, iteration and testing
  5. Diffuse lessons and share best practice
Transforming Government for the 21st Century

Publisher: Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, June 2019

This report highlights that procurement accounts for roughly a third of all UK government spending — around £284 billion ($367.4 billion). Given this huge purchasing power, this report suggests that procurement should be considered an important lever for Governments to achieve their strategic goals, not just a matter of finance. However, for this approach to succeed the report authors suggest significant reforms to procurement are needed, encouraging greater experimentation and smaller providers:

“All central government, non-commodity procurement contracts should first run a pre-procurement innovation process unless waived by the relevant minister.”

Markets for good: Creating effective public-private partnerships post-Brexit

Publisher: Confederation of British Industry (CBI), March 2019

The report highlights the significant untapped opportunities to improve partnerships between the public and private sector within the current environment including boosting pre-market engagement. The report also calls for changes to current procurement rules to support a more efficient and effective government marketplace.

Buying into the future, how to deliver innovation through public procurement

Publisher: Public, April 2019

Outlines the current state-of-play in the innovation procurement landscape focusing primarily on start-ups and breaking down procurement processes with recommendations for how procurement can be reformed to better support start-ups.

“Innovation must be brought in from the margins and placed where it needs to be — at the centre of how the public sector operates.”

If you are interested in what you have seen above and have a report you would like to add to our list, please get involved and contact us at