Socially responsible public procurement (SRPP) is a policy approach public (and private) actors can use in order to promote social impact and foster sustainable development. Through responsible purchasing of goods and services, public authorities can enhance positive change such as promoting employment opportunities, social inclusion, accessibility.

Public buyers are major investors in Europe, spending 14% of the EU’s gross domestic product thus being able to affect the market in order to promote social value. However, member states are not yet exploiting the possibilities of responsible public procurement as a strategic tool to support social policy objectives.

The European Commission published a collection of several (71) good practices of Socially responsible public procurement, implemented within the EU (in 22 countries) and in non-member states (in 5 countries). Among these experiences, 17 case studies include cross-sectoral or policy level initiatives supporting SRPP for example, the use of employment clauses in public procurement contracts in order to support or include specific target groups or market actors (e.g. vulnerable people far from the labor market, social enterprises, etc.). In France, more specifically in the Grand East Region, contracting authorities within the region are including employment clauses as a key instrument to promote work inclusion of groups with limited access to the labor market. A network of facilitators supports local actors (public and private) involved in the contracting procedure in order to successfully implement such employment clauses. Facilitators act as go-betweens, between contracting authorities and operators that take part in public procurement markets (social economy enterprises, employment services, NGOs, etc.). Facilitators supports involved actors across the full procurement cycle, from the identification of potential tenderers, support in drafting proposals, up to the contract monitoring. Cooperation between contracting authorities and facilitators is underpinned by a long- term planning of employment opportunities for disadvantaged people through public procurement. This long-term vision enables facilitators to better plan and implement SRPP instruments, by mapping upcoming opportunities, identify specific needs, scout operators with potential to access public procurement and investigate and address possible barriers to public procurement access (e.g. competences).

The City of Turin also use a policy instrument in order to ease vulnerable people’s access to the labor market, through public procurement. This mechanism is the Regolamento 307 (regulation 307), one of the first SRPP instrument of this sort in Europe that the City has implemented since 1998.

According to the regulation, contracting authorities can secure public purchase of goods and services from operators that employ vulnerable people or people with disabilities. Among other evaluation criteria, the economic operators’ offer is assessed by evaluating the progetto tecnico, i.e. the project describing the work inclusion of vulnerable people/people with disabilities. The City of Turin foresees a support to the implementation of the regulation; actors involved (contracting authorities, private economic operators, social services, etc.) are supported from tender drafting to the evaluation of the technical offer. In addition, support is ensured for contract monitoring and for mediation between contracting authorities, economic operators and social services in case difficult situations with beneficiaries arise.

In 2016, through the regulation, public authorities promoted the employment of 579 people, more than 60% were women.

You can access the Commission full report here