Purchasing products and services

Central government purchases € 10 billion worth of products and services each year. This includes everything from stationary and catering to the construction of a new motorway. When selecting products and services central government looks not only at quality and price, but also at sustainability, innovation, social conditions and labour market improvements.

Environmental purchasing criteria

Computers should be energy-efficient. When new roads are built construction materials must be reused. These are two examples of environmental criteria that government authorities can apply when purchasing products and services.

Central government uses environmental criteria like this for all kinds of products. Some criteria are minimum requirements while others are preferences. Suppliers have to meet the requirements in order to be considered for a contract. If suppliers also accommodate the government’s preferences, they can score extra points, and will have a better chance of being awarded the contract.

Improving the position of low-income people on the labour market

Central government seeks to improve the position of low-income people on the labour market. That is why it will create over 3,000 jobs in the lowest pay scales within central government (in Dutch). Most of these jobs will be in security and the cleaning, postal and courier services. This means employing staff on a long-term basis instead of hiring temporary staff through external agencies. Central government is also working with suppliers to continuously improve working conditions

Purchasing innovative products and services

The government aims to spend 2.5% of its procurement budget on innovative products and services. These may be either entirely new products or improved versions of existing products. In this way central government stimulates businesses’ capacity for innovation.

Central government can specifically seek out new products and services or it can offer scope in contract award procedures for suppliers of innovative products, like hydrogen cars. Sometimes central government even asks businesses to come up with a solution instead of a product. For example, it might say, ‘Think of a smart way of getting from A to B,’ instead of ‘Which car is most suitable for getting from A to B?’ The PIANOo Public Procurement Expertise Centre describes more developments in innovative procurement (in Dutch). 

Help with innovative procurement

The public innovation procurement programme (IIU) is aimed at promoting the procurement of sustainable innovations. In this programme central government works with non-profit organisations and healthcare institutions.