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Public Procurement and Responsible Business Conduct

Governments are the largest buyers of goods, services and public works.  Public procurement accounts for approximately 12% of GDP in OECD countries and is critical to the delivery of services like infrastructure, health and education. Value for money remains a fundamental principle of public procurement. However, the concept has evolved to encompass a wider range of considerations such as environmental, economic and social aspects. This makes public procurement a strategic tool for achieving policy objectives such as the Sustainable Development Goals, and for promoting Responsible Business Conduct (RBC).


Governments can lead by example by incorporating responsible business standards (RBC objectives) in their purchasing policies and practices, to safeguard the public interest and ensure the accountability of public spending.  Integrating RBC objectives in public procurement can provide an incentive for companies to incorporate responsible business practices and risk-based due diligence in their global supply chains.


The OECD has launched a programme to advance the integration of Responsible Business Conduct (RBC), in particular risk-based due diligence, into public procurement policies and processes. Since October 2019,  the OECD has been delivering on three pillars:


1) Research and analysis to support policymaking: The OECD is taking stock of existing practices in countries to integrate RBC objectives in public procurement policies and practices. OECD gives a policy brief on benefits and lessons for governments to integrate RBC in public procurement.


2) Knowledge sharing to promote implementation: The OECD is creating a platform to support peer learning and collaboration in the effective implementation of RBC in public procurement. The platform convenes practitioners, policymakers and stakeholders on public procurement and RBC. It provides a space to exchange on solutions for preventing and mitigating risks in global supply chains, such as through supply chain due diligence in public procurement.


3) Implementation: pilot on the public procurement of garment and textiles: A pilot on risk-based due diligence in the public procurement of garment and textiles aims to support countries in implementing the approach of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct and the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector, tailored to the public procurement context.


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