The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) publishes today its Third Report of Session 2005-06, Sustainable Procurement: the Way Forward. This Report is a follow-up to an earlier Report, Sustainable Public Procurement, published by its predecessor Committee in April 2005.  The purpose of this short second inquiry into the subject of procurement was to ascertain what progress had been made since April 2005, to take due consideration of the National Audit Office Review, Sustainable procurement in central government, which was published in September 2005, and to help inform the work of the Sustainable Procurement Task Force, which is due to report to the Government with its Action Plan in April 2006.

The Committee concludes that,

"Sustainability has to be at the core of purchasing, and within the context of climate change, carbon emissions targets and the threat to biodiversity world-wide, environmental considerations should be treated as seriously as pure financial considerations." (Recommendation 7)

The Committee is concerned that considerable confusion remains at the heart of the Government's sustainable procurement policy and calls for definitive leadership from the Office of Government Commerce (OGC). The Committee says,

"It makes sense that since the Office of Government Commerce leads on procurement, so it must lead on sustainable procurement.  It must do so by making clear that they are - or should be - one and the same: all procurement should be as sustainable as possible, and procurement decisions should all be founded upon an understanding of the principles of sustainable development.  As sustainable procurement requires Cabinet level leadership to be promoted effectively, the Chief Secretary at the Treasury should be tasked to lead on this subject." (Recommendation 4)

In addition to leadership at Cabinet level, and from OGC, the Committee believes that each Government Department has a vital role to play in promoting sustainable procurement.  The Committee concludes therefore that,

"Every department of Government will need a sustainable procurement champion of sufficient seniority to ensure that the Treasury and the Office of Government commerce will be successful in the long term in spreading the word across government." (Recommendation 9)

The Committee also points to the need for sufficient training within all Government departments, and at all levels, to help deliver sustainable procurement.  The Committee recommends that,

"We need to see a green streak running right through government and from top to bottom through individual departments before we can expect them to take on a greener complexion overall.  Departments must make it a priority to establish a roster for the training of key staff, starting at the top." (Recommendation 12)

Copies of the report can be obtained from TSO outlets and from the Parliamentary Bookshop, 12 Bridge Street, Parliament Square, London SW1A 2JX (020 7219 3890) by quoting House of Commons No 740.  The text of the Report will also be available from approximately 3.30pm onwards on its publication date, on the Committee's Internet homepage.

For further information on the report, journalists may phone the Committee's press officer, Laura Kibby, on 020 7219 0718.

Notes for Editors

The report published today by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) is its Third Report of Session 2005-06, Sustainable Procurement: the Way Forward, HC 740.  Details of all the Committee's press releases together with its Reports, oral evidence and other publications, are available on the Committee's website.

In the 2001 Parliament, EAC agreed a Report entitled Sustainable Public Procurement (printed in April 2005, the Report was the Sixth Report of Session 2004-05, HC266).