2018 Conference on Responsible Public Procurement

2018 Conference on Responsible Public Procurement
by The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture


On 20 September 2018, two hundred participants witnessed an interesting discussion at the Czech National Bank’s Congress Centre, and we believe that most of them have taken inspiration and courage to use socially responsible principles in public procurement.

A video from the conference can be watched at YouTube:




Keynote – Sustainable Procurement ISO 20400, Shaun McCarthy (Action Sustainability)


Topic I: Public procurement quality begins with process setup and organisation management
The purchasing power of public contracting authorities is a powerful tool that may be used to influence the market, put pressure on a higher degree of sustainability, and attain other effects with positive impact on the society as a whole. In addition to the specifically defined, socially beneficial objectives, a well-set-up purchasing systems helps improve public purchasing overall.
A number of examples from both Western and Central Europe, the Czech Republic included, testify that a good setup allows contracting authorities to think through their purchasing system, emphasise strategy, interconnect individual purchase phases, maintain overall control of the process, practise good communication with third parties, and optimize the use of their previous experience.
The system approach to the public procurement setup is described in directive ISO 20400:2017. Many aspects are also covered by guidelines published by the Czech Ministry of Finance. These documents, like experience shared by foreign contracting authorities in discussions, may provide answers to the following questions:

Shaun McCarthy – Action Sustainability (Great Britain)
Valdemar Adamiš – Ministry of Finance (Czech Republic)
Jiří Šimon – Ministry of Agriculture (Czech Republic)
Matthieu Cahen – OECD (France)
Leona Gergelová Šteigrová – Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Czech Republic)

Topic II: Quality vs Price. What is the value of social responsibility?
During purchasing, contracting authorities naturally seek the lowest bid price. They should, however, try to find the best price/quality ratio while taking added social value into account. At the very least, contracting authorities should strive to avoid a negative impact on the social and environmental spheres, and wherever possible—without increasing the budget—should support the positive effects of any public procurement contract awarded. An exklusive focus on the lowest bid price is not beneficial, nor does it guarantee quality. Quality assessment is closely related to setting up and allocating weights to individual criteria, seeking the optimum ratio between evaluation criteria, allocating a specific number of points to individual bids, and self-assessment. Discussion of quality vs bid price should answer the following questions:

Martin Hadaš – Masaryk University Brno (Czech Republic)
Simon Clement – ICLEI, (Germany)
Dalma Kittka  – City of Budapest (Hungary)
Jaroslav Lexa – Office for Public Procurement (Slovak Republic)
Ondrej Čurilla – HAVEL & PARTNERS s.r.o., attorneys-at-law (Czech Republic)

Topic III: What is the relationship between quality and a sustainable supply chain?
The supply chain, i.e., a system of entities that stand between the raw material and the end customer, may be rather complex for some contracts. If contracting authorities wish to ensure that the performance of public procurement contracts paid for by public funds takes place under fair conditions—timely payments, legal employment, decent work conditions, and protection of the environment—they must consider the risk of failure to maintain such standards within their supply chain. Subcontractors’ social responsibility, i.e., fair payments among businesses, decent work conditions for employees, protection of the environment, etc.—may, as a result, impact the quality of the material performance as such.
Among other issues to be considered is the reputation of public institutions and their responsibility for public procurement impact. The distance between a specific manufacturing process and the contracting authority may not serve as an alibi in considering sustainability. The following questions related to supply chain quality and responsibility will be discussed:

Shaun McCarthy – Action Sustainability (Great Britain)
Caitlin Helfrich – International Labour Organisation, ILO (Switzerland)
Malika Kessous – Ministere de l’Économie et des Finances (France)
Luboš Záveský – State Labour Inspection Office (Czech Republic)
Jiří Prokš – University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague (Czech Republic)