The most positive reaction we have seen to the Social Value Act 2012 has been a vaguely dismissive sniff followed by a (as we are all European now we can’t call it “Gallic” but you know what we mean) shrug and the rhetorical question, “and?”.
We have commented on this well meaning, but essentially toothless piece of legislation on several occasions and the key point is always the same: in the battle of sanctions, compliance with the Social Value Act will always give way to compliance with the Public Contracts Regulations where there is any hint of a grey area.
The article linked below is an excellent analysis and commentary from Pro Bono Australia on what is described as “Social Procurement” (which, for us, beats “Horizontal Policy Implementation” as a tag that might catch on).
The whole piece is well worth a read, but this quote is particularly apt:
“The major impediment for social procurement is that it requires change at both a strategic and operational level in the way that we procure; the required change will only occur through leadership. At the moment the leaders are starting to coalesce: Government social procurement networks have been developed in NSW and Victoria and are starting to form nationally; business networks are also forming through the leadership of organisations like The Faculty, who run a corporate social procurement round table in collaboration with Social Traders. Best practice is being captured and case studied and the knowledge base is building.”
That is hitting the nail head-on. Getting the most out of Public Procurement in terms of influencing and achieving social, economic and environmental goals is a bottom-up thing. Top-down helps, but it really only provides a conduit for the flow.