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Our rules of how procurement should be conducted.

As a public sector organisation the prime objective of Skills Development Scotland (SDS) procurement is to achieve best value for money (VFM).

Brexit has come into effect, SDS align to advice from Scottish Government. 

SDS is a Scottish Public Sector Contracting Authority and requires to meet its legal obligations through International and Domestic Legislation.

We have undergone an independent Full Procurement Commercial Improvement Programme assessment and were ranked as a High Performing organisation. We also recently secured a silver in our recent SDS Business Excellence self assessment.

The SDS Procurement team adhere to The Scottish Model of Procurement which puts procurement at the heart of Scotland’s economic recovery. It sees procurement as an integral part of policy development and service delivery. Value for Money is not just about cost and quality, but about the best balance of cost, quality and sustainability to meet the needs of our customers.

More information

The SDS Procurement Policy Manual outlines the key principles of value for money, competition, separation of duties and legal obligations.


In line with the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014, we have published a summarised Contracts Register. This will be refreshed on a quarterly basis. If you require any further information in relation to the Contracts Register, please email

Public sector procurement is a legal process and SDS is required to adhere to EU legal requirements.

Purchase orders are issued through the Finance System. SDS has a no purchase order - no payment policy. Suppliers require to have received a purchase order before they undertake a commitment on behalf of SDS.  

The SDS standard terms and conditions are available below. These will continue to be developed in line with best practice. Short form terms and conditions are available for low value purchase orders (less than £50,000) and long form terms and conditions for high value purchase (£50,000 and above).  In addition, terms and conditions are available for purchase orders that are not expected to exceed £5,000.

Fair Work First

SDS Procurement champion Fair Work First we encourage and promote Fair Work across our supplier base. SDS have put in place an implementation plan to extend Fair Work to grants where applicable in a proportionate and pragmatic manner.

Skills Development Scotland is committed to the delivery of high quality public services and recognise that this is critically dependent on our people.

SDS Fair Work First statement is below.

Our vision is that SDS is an employer of choice, committed to enabling fulfilling working lives, through our exemplar demonstration of fair, innovative and transformative work; and that our people are a highly motivated, engaged and productive workforce who take responsibility for their own personal development, wellbeing and fulfilment at work.

Skills Development Scotland has adopted Fair Work First, which includes:

  • a fair pay and equal pay policy that includes a commitment to supporting the real Living Wage, including, for example being a Living Wage Accredited Employer
  • investment in workforce development including a strong commitment to Modern Apprenticeships.
  • no inappropriate use of zero hours contracts;
  • flexible working (flexi-time and career breaks) and support for family friendly working and wider work life balance;
  • appropriate channels for effective voice and employee engagement, including trade union recognition
  • take action to tackle the gender pay gap and create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. which reflects the population of Scotland in terms of age, gender, race and disability.

In order to ensure the highest standards of service quality in this contract we expect contractors to take a similarly positive approach to fair work practices as part of a fair and equitable employment and reward package for all employees whether permanent, temporary or agency involved in the delivery of any SDS Contract.

Modern Slavery

We have published out Prevention of Modern Slavery in Procurement Policy which mitigates any risk of instances of modern slavery in our supply chains. As well as our SDS Modern Slavery Statement, there is also a Best Practice Guidance Note on Modern Slavery in Procurement and an SDS Academy Module is now available in Modern Slavery which provides further information and guidance. 

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

The Public-sector equality duty requires public authorities, in the exercise of its functions, to have due regard to the need to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct that is prohibited by the Equality Act 2010
  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not
  • Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not

SDS in ensuring that we have ‘due regard’ when making decisions SDS shall consciously consider the needs of the duty. How much regard is due will depend on the circumstances and in particular on the relevance of the aims of the general duty to the decision or function in question

To meet the requirements of the duty SDS shall demonstrate that Procurement have had due regard to whether the award criteria and conditions relating to the performance of a relevant agreement should include considerations to enable it to better perform the equality duty for all  public contracts or framework agreements regulated by the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015. 

For the last seven Financial Years (13/14, 14/15, 15/16, 16/17, 17/18, 18/19 and 19/20) we have published SDS Annual Procurement Reports. The Annual Procurement Reports publish details of:

  • Central Contracts Placed
  • Central Contracts Compliance
  • Value for Money Savings
  • Key Highlights
  • % SME Expenditure
  • Expenditure with not for profit organisations
  • Sustainable Procurement successes / carbon reduction through What ? – New Green Technology / Why? – MORE Effective Demand Management

SDS Procurement have a good understanding of our Key Procurement Trend Indicators with a positive increase in the % of expenditure and contracts awarded to SMEs through positive action such as multi-lotting requirements over the last seven years. SDS have the largest expenditure with not for profit organisations / third sector across the Scottish Public Sector. Third Sector provide a valuable service in assisting those disadvantaged groupings which require a degree of support in entering the employment market through the employability pipeline.

View our annual reports: 

Skilled and experienced procurement people are our most important asset. SDS was a founding partner in the Procurement People of Tomorrow programme. We have a cohesive and blended approach (vocational and knowledge based) to new entrants to a career in procurement. SDS champions the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply Global Occupational Standards bases on the four key pillars of;

  • Process
  • Infrastructure
  • Performance
  • People

We have adopted the Scottish Government’s Procurement Competency Framework for continuous professional development.

SDS Facilitates growth of SME's and Not for Profits

The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) defines Sustainable Procurement as;

“A process whereby organisations meet their needs for goods, services, works and utilities in a way that achieves value for money on a whole-life basis in terms of generating benefits not only to the organisation, but also to society and the economy, whilst minimising damage to the environment.”

The SDS “Sustainable Procurement Action Plan” was developed through using:

  • Sustainable Procurement Flexible Framework
  • Scottish Government Sustainable Procurement Prioritisation Tool
  • The Sustainability Test

Here is the plan of actions being taken by SDS with regards to sustainable procurement.

Read how SDS is making a difference to the environment through our Azure and Print Services Case Studies. 

Here is also the SDS Climate Change Strategy 2020-2030.

Actions in response to SPPN1/2021 can be found here.

Looking for different policies?

All SDS policies can be searched and filtered from the Publications and Statistics section.

Get in touch

For more information email the Procurement team