March 20, 2013
The UK’s National Audit Office has published a new report on the Government’s record on sustainable procurement which suggests that policy has focussed on cost savings and budget cuts at the expense of sustainability. The briefing document on sustainable procurement is a response to a request from the Environmental Audit Committee and paints a clear picture of the conflict between two key areas of economic policy which many experts argue should go hand in hand when managed intelligently. However a sign of the Government’s priorities may have been clear when the Cabinet Office abolished the post of Chief Sustainability Officer and close the Green Government Unit in 2011.
While the report acknowledges that the Government Procurement Service has made a number of supply chain tools available for departments to meet their environmental commitments, it also highlights a number of specific areas for concern including a failure to meet targets for new Government Buying Standards and a lack of will to monitor them effectively.
The overall picture is one of a Government that sees sustainability and cost-saving as two separate objectives it has to choose between, rather than, as many people suggest, two sides of the same coin. The report concludes that the “Government Procurement Service and departments should do more to measure and report their progress towards meeting the Greening Government Commitment to buy more sustainable and efficient products and engage with suppliers to understand and reduce the impacts of its supply chain, and, if so, how this can be achieved.”