Brev från en upphandlare - Ett stort EU-projekt svarar en liten kommun

Ett av mina mer lästa inlägg på senaste tiden blev inlägget om sysselsättningskrav i offentliga upphandlingar, ett projekt som bland annat Helsingborg, Göteborg, Stockholms Stad, Trafikverket och Upphandlingsmyndigheten deltar i.

I inlägget pekar jag bland annat på behovet av att i sådana här projekt ha med de mindre kommunerna och våra förutsättningar i tanken, för att undvika att stödet blir helt anpassat efter organisationer i storleksnivå med de som deltar i projektet. Jag tror att det är naturligt att det är de större organisationerna som har tid och resurser att sitta med i sådana här projekt – men det är tacksamt om man har våra förutsättningar i åtanke när man tar fram mallar, stöd och annat material.

Därför blev jag väldigt glad när Magnus Nilvér på Helsingborgs stad kontaktade mig i början av förra veckan och frågade om jag kunde bidra till detta på något sätt inför en konferens de skulle hålla inom ramen för projektet. Tyvärr var det för kort varsel för att jag skulle hinna vara med på plats, men jag fick möjlighet att svara på några kloka frågor som Magnus skickade och som skulle användas som diskussionsunderlag på konferensen. När jag skickat svaren tog Magnus initiativ till att istället omformulera mina svar till ett brev från mig till projektet. Brevet kan ni läsa nedan:

Dear project!

My name is Marcus Bäckström and I work as a procurer in the municipality of Simrishamn at the very south east corner of Sweden. We are about 20 000 inhabitants in our municipality. That gives us the 125:th place out of 290, on the list of municipalities in Sweden regarding population. We are quite in the middle of that list.

As a procurer in Simrishamn, as is the case in many other smaller Swedish public organizations, the procurer works towards many different parts of the organization. Therefore, you may be part of many different types of contracts. Examples of contracts I’ve worked on just in the last year is a mobile library bus that we ordered from Northern Ireland, purchasing storage solutions for a new storage building, drafting framework agreements for the purchase of office supplies, phones, computers and interpretation services – as well as being part of larger projects, like who is going to be responsible for managing our school buses and who is going to deliver the filling materials for larger projects.

As a result of the procurers many different areas of work, I consider myself more of a generalist than a specialist. I am specialized in helping the managers of the different parts of the organization to think about everything before signing a contract – such as agreeing on delivery dates, warrantys and quality levels of the goods purchased – but I am also a specialist in implementing the politicially decided policies into the contracts. The manager, however, is always responsible for the contract they sign. I am just a facilitator who try to help as best I can.

As a result of the above, my main task when it comes to employment criterias in public procurement is to raise awareness about the possibility of implementing such terms into our contracts, and then – if there is a decision from the managers/politicians that we should do so – make sure that they are in compliance with the public procurement laws. You can say that there are three important stakeholders in the municipality:

The decision makers: Politicians who set goals for the organization and managers responsible for implementing these goals into reality. These are the people that need to understand the importance of having these terms in the contracts. Before these people understand that, there is no possibility for myself (or the lower managers) to start working with implementing them.

The labor market unit: The employees that will be in charge of following up the goals, contacting the contractors that have signed contracts containing terms of employment and connecting people who are in need of jobs with these contractors. A lot of the day to day work will end up at this part of the organization.

The procurer: Responsible for making sure that our contracts contain employment criterias to an extent decided by the decision makers, and responsible for making sure that these goals are in accordance with the laws of public procurement.

In order to help the procurer in smaller organizations, who often has little time and many different tasks, a national model with examples of contract terms that can be directly implemented into our procuring documents would be most welcome. As well as examples of which types of contracts works better / worse for these types of terms.

Also, I think that there needs to be information material directed not only to the procurer, but also to the decision makers and the labor market unit, to raise awareness of the positive impact employment criterias can have on long term employment.

Because of the way responsibility and contract signing works in our organization, I think the main problem to adress is this:

How can you make the person responsible for signing the contract aware of the benefits associated with employment criterias in contracts? The person responsible for signing the contract is the same person that has responsibility for keeping a budget – if they see employment criterias as costly or ”work creating” inside their own area of responsibility without getting the benefits they may be reluctant to implement such criterias. This can be controlled by getting clear directives from politicians or higher managers that these terms are to be implemented into contracts, or by being clear that most of the work associated with the terms will end up on the people working on the labor market unit.

Thank you for reading my thoughts! I hope that my letter to you can contribute to your work of creating support for all of us in my situation who wish to get started.

I fredags hörde Magnus av sig igen och berättade att det blivit väldigt uppskattat med en påminnelse till projektdeltagarna om den mindre kommunens förutsättningar. Och ett av resultaten från konferensen blev att projektet kommer formulera ett svar till mig / Simrishamn / Sveriges mindre kommuner om hur deras stöd kommer anpassas efter våra förutsättningar.

Jag ser fram emot svaret!

Med vänliga hälsningar,
Marcus Bäckström