Social procurement – Evaluating social and sustainable procurement objectives and outcomes for buyers

Find out how to incorporate social and sustainable procurement objectives and outcomes into the evaluation, negotiation and selection process.

Social and sustainable procurement objectives and outcomes need to be incorporated into the evaluation, negotiation and selection processes for individual procurement activities. Evaluation, negotiation and selection are important complementary processes that underpin selection of the most appropriate submission in response to an invitation to supply. The structure of these processes should reflect the complexity and scope of the individual procurement activity, as well as the method of market approach used in the circumstances.

These processes form part of the sourcing phase of the procurement lifecycle and involve identifying the supplier(s) that delivers an optimal value-for-money outcome for the department or agency.

Evaluation processes - low value, intermittent purchases

Where an individual procurement activity does not involve an invitation to supply – such as low value, intermittent purchases where verbal quotes are sought from suppliers – the evaluation process is simplified accordingly. In those circumstances, the selection of preferred supplier is based on an assessment of value for money, without the formalities of weighting and scoring against evaluation criteria.

In these circumstances, the direct approach to social procurement – that is, purchasing from a social benefit supplier – will often represent the greatest opportunity to deliver social and/or sustainable outcomes.

Evaluation processes – with invitations to supply and written responses from suppliers

Evaluation criteria

Among other things, market approach documentation should outline the:

  • scope and quantity of goods, services or construction required;
  • conditions for participation;
  • information and documents to be submitted by suppliers;
  • criteria for evaluating responses and the evaluation process; and
  • relative importance or weighting allocated to the evaluation criteria.

Evaluation criteria are standards of judgment, and rankings of priority, that are used by government buyers to assess offers and compare alternatives put forward by respondents to an invitation to supply. Evaluation criteria should reflect the objectives of the individual procurement activity. Mandatory requirements and evaluation criteria must be identified as such in the market approach documentation. (Note that some types of procurement have prescribed mandatory requirements. For example, the Ministerial Directions for Public Construction in Victoria require departments and agencies to disclose evaluation criteria in tender documentation and indicate which are mandatory criteria.)

These criteria are typically summarised in an evaluation matrix, which is a table that summarises the score or ranking of each offer made by potential suppliers against the requirements and evaluation criteria.

Although it is possible to incorporate Social Procurement Framework-related evaluation criteria that are not weighted, it is strongly recommended that any social and sustainable outcomes are incorporated into invitations to supply as mandatory requirements and designated as weighted selection criteria. For example, unweighted evaluation criteria may be preferable where the capability or capacity of suppliers to deliver a desired social or sustainable outcome is unknown. Unweighted criteria may also be used to convey the desirability of suppliers making social procurement commitments relating to other social and sustainable outcomes.

The weighting allocated to evaluation criteria sends a clear signal to the market that the delivery of social and sustainable outcomes is important to Government.

Table 3 of the Social Procurement Framework recommends that a minimum weighting of 5 to 10 percent be allocated to Social Procurement Framework -related evaluation criteria, depending on the circumstances (including scale and complexity) of the individual procurement activity. The appropriate weightings should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and proportionate to the importance of delivering social and/or sustainable outcomes relative to other procurement requirements.

Tools and support

Application of Social Procurement Framework weightings (example) is available in the Social procurement toolkit.

Scoring against Social Procurement Framework evaluation criteria (example) is available in the Social procurement toolkit.

Model social procurement evaluation matrices for procurement of different values are available in the Social procurement toolkit.

This content on this page is taken from the Social Procurement Framework – Buyer Guidance – Guide to evaluation. Access a PDF version in the social procurement document library.

For more information about social procurement, please contact the Social Procurement team.