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SDP Welcomes Announcement of GO Scotland Award Finalists

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All of Scotland’s 32 Local Authorities and the Supplier Development Programme (SDP) have been announced as a Finalist for the ‘COVID-19 Outstanding Response Award’ in the Government Opportunities (GO) Excellence in Public Procurement Awards Scotland 2021.


During 2020-2021, alongside all 32 Scottish local authorities, the Supplier Development Programme worked continuously to keep supplier engagement going in the public sector during a period when entire economic development teams were understandably re-deployed to business grants and even some procurement staff within local authorities faced unprecedented pressures. It was key for the Supplier Development Programme to ensure buyers and suppliers stayed connected, so that suppliers continued to be 'tender ready' to work with the public sector.

SDP moved all training events online in response to the pandemic. The 2020 Meet the Buyer event was cancelled, due to restrictions and lack of capacity in the public sector. However, to keep suppliers engaged, SDP organised its first-ever Twitter Takeover with help from staff in Fife Council, East Renfrewshire Council, South Ayrshire Council and the Scottish Government Construction Procurement team. The social media activity was complemented by SDP tender training webinars and an interactive “how-to” on using PCS. The programme moved the events online to demonstrate an innovative approach to communicate with suppliers to contribute to open, connected, and transparent procurement practices in Scotland's public sector during the ongoing restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the time, Gavin Cockburn, Acting Service Lead for SAC Procurement, said: “I cannot stress enough the importance of remaining visible to and supportive of Scottish SMEs during these difficult times. From having initial concerns about how we might fill an hour promoting Council procurement processes, to answering suppliers on Twitter, SDP made everything easy by encouraging our ideas, nurturing them through to their final format, and assisting with all aspects of presenting these on the day.”

SDP built upon this early technological success and invested in an online event platform to organise the first-ever virtual Meet the Buyer North event on 2 September 2020. In total, 1,606 suppliers were booked, 684 suppliers (from 590 unique businesses), and 141 buyers attended. With 30 virtual stands from public sector buyers and supply chain contractors, including hub North, and various business support organisations, such as Business Gateway, HIE, and Scotland Excel. After the event, 90% of exhibitors/buyers at the event also agreed that the virtual event demonstrated public sector procurement to be open and transparent even with the challenges caused by the pandemic.

At the request of the Scottish Government, in May 2020, SDP gathered suppliers’ views in an online survey on the effects of the Coronavirus outbreak on Supplier Relief, furloughed staff, access to free online training and capacity to bid for public sector contracts. In response to the survey, SDP worked with its membership organisations to provide aligned support where required. The programme soon realised there was a large demand for bespoke training. So, to meet this demand SDP further invested in innovative, digital technology and offer a more robust virtual event service to membership organisations, resulting in the delivery and support of 101 fully online events in 2020/2021.

Award Nomination

The Supplier Development Programme initially entered the GO Awards in the ‘Technology in Procurement’ category and was later announced as a Finalist in the ‘COVID-19 Outstanding Response - Public Sector’ category.

Chair of the SDP Board, Councillor Heather Brannan-McVey, said:

“On the back of winning two GO Awards last year, it is a surprise for SDP to find itself a finalist in a category we never entered. But we see it too: SDP is a collaboration with all 32 Scottish local authorities and as such this honour of being a Finalist in the COVID Response category will be shared with each and every member. Economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is a shared endeavour, and if we are to accept this we do so recognising the work of all local authorities and others in enabling SMEs, supported business and third sector organisations to secure valuable contracts and sustain the emergency requirements that enabled the public sector to rise to the unforeseen challenges the pandemic created.

“The role of the Supplier Development Programme in the power of procurement has never been more important than now. As local, regional, national and international markets continue to change, we recognise that the £13.3billion spend of the public sector in Scotland is a powerful catalyst towards sustainable business, business diversification and offers the potential for huge community benefits in the supply chain, in local jobs and opportunities in skills, training and education to meet the job market of the present and future.

“The SDP Board offers congratulations to all Finalists in this year’s GO Awards. We very much look forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with the rest of our colleagues in applauding the organisations that took on the odds and previously unknown procurement challenges during the pandemic for the betterment of the whole of Scotland.”

Gillian Cameron, Supplier Development Programme Manager, said:

"SDP congratulates all of the GO Awards Finalists for their continuous hard work and efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Alongside our partners, the Supplier Development Programme is pleased to be a Finalist for a National GO Award. The work we have taken forward in partnership with Scotland's 32 local authorities demonstrates the resilience of the public sector and its commitment to keep suppliers, particularly SMEs, at the forefront of its procurement practices and related benefits of local economic development."

Next Steps

The winner of the GO Award for a COVID-19 Outstanding Response Award will be announced at an awards ceremony on 19 April 2022 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Glasgow.

View the full list of finalists for the 2020/21 GO Awards Scotland.

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