Municipal consultancy procurement – New roles and practices
Journal article, 2014
The shift in municipal procurement of construction-related services from technical departments to central departments of procurement has significant impacts on the selection criteria and processes. These new roles and decision-making contexts (increased regulative complexity, stricter control and outsourcing of wider ranges of municipal services) are examined for how they shape procurement practices for architectural and engineering services in Swedish municipalities. Based on a critical theoretical review of policy implementation and inter-professional collaboration, the purchasing practices of five Swedish municipalities are examined and compared through case study interviews to understand the relationships and practices that occur between technical and procurement staff. Resource constraints and stricter control are found to lead to a strong preference, especially among technical staff, for simplified procurement models with a high emphasis on lowest price, whilst procurement staff favour more advanced methods for quality assessment. However, differences in knowledge and professional culture between the technical staff and procurement staff have created barriers to communication and competence integration. To develop a procurement practice that rewards supplier competence, clearer guidelines and changes to procurement roles within the client organization are needed, as well as increased resources. Procurement policies need to be more closely tied to their implementation.