What Social Procurement is at The City
The City of Calgary makes thousands of purchases each year to deliver the services Calgarians depend on every day. Social Procurement is when The City makes those purchases strategically to contribute to social equity, economic resilience, social and economic reconciliation with Indigenous people, and growing a green economy. We have built Social Procurement into our traditional procurement practices:
1) Through reducing barriers and increasing access to City contracts by giving competitive advantage to small- and medium-sized businesses, especially businesses owned by traditionally underrepresented groups in society such as women, Indigenous, LGBTQ2S+, diverse Racialized groups and newcomers.
2) Through setting out The City’s social expectations to all potential suppliers and rewarding points during procurement evaluations to those businesses who have demonstrated their support of climate and environmental actions or outcomes for members of underrepresented groups in our community.
As a user of the public’s funds, price and quality are always key considerations in The City’s procurements. Our Social Procurement program keeps price and quality as the most important considerations while allowing The City to use its buying power to make positive impacts on the economy and community outcomes through the purchase of goods, services, and construction.
How it works in practice
The Social Procurement program is how The City is building inclusive, resilient and sustainable trade within our supply chain. Through the program, all City services are:
- Encouraged to buy local whenever possible for purchases below $5,000.
- Required to get at least one quote from a local supplier whenever possible for purchases of goods and services costing $5,000 - $75,000 and construction costing $5,000 - $200,000.
- Including the Social Procurement Questionnaire for purchases of goods and services costing more than $75,000 and construction costing more than $200,000, where Trade Agreements apply, with a minimum five per cent weighting in the evaluation.
The Public Value through Procurement policy states that all procurement at The City creates public value and, within public procurement law, The City is committed to creating additional public value impact to improve community outcomes for Calgarians. This policy guides any strategy at The City that uses procurement to deliver on community outcomes.
The Social Procurement Strategy (approved as the Benefit Driven Procurement Strategy in 2021) is the procedural document that defines how City Administration performs procurement activities under the Procurement Policy. The strategy highlights the key principle of considering the social benefits of a procurement outcome at the beginning of the procurement process for City purchases.
Connection to Council's direction
Social Procurement helps make Calgary a more economic, social and climate resilient city, which is Council’s Strategic Direction for 2023-2026. Learn more about Council’s Direction.
The Social Procurement Questionnaire
On May 23, 2023, we digitized and expanded the Social Procurement Questionnaire to include environmental, climate, ethics, and occupational health and safety elements from the Sustainable Environmental and Ethical Procurement Policy (SEEPP) Questionnaire (rescinded 2021). These new elements complement the original Social Procurement Questionnaire criteria, which are:
- Being a small or medium-sized business.
- Being certified as a diverse or socially inclusive business (such as businesses owned by women, LGBTQ2S+, diverse Racialized groups, newcomers or Indigenous people).
- Implementing programs or inclusive employment practices to support greater economic opportunity to underrepresented groups.
- Providing apprenticeship programs, work experience or internship opportunities for underrepresented groups.
- Paying a living wage.
In addition to the questionnaire update, we’ve been actively removing barriers in The City’s procurement process. As of June 27, 2022, we’ve removed all fees for responding to procurement opportunities.
Here’s a high-level breakdown of these changes and how they benefit potential suppliers:
Please note that as the Social Procurement Questionnaire is now digitized, we are no longer accepting the previous version of the questionnaire as an attachment on new procurements. Click here to view the current Social Procurement Questionnaire (modified May 2023).
The Journey to get it right
A lot of work has been done to date to first get Social Procurement started, and then put into practice at The City. The graphic below walks you through the Social Procurement journey. Please hover on the images to learn more about each milestone.
This graphic shows how we got to where we are today. While we have come a long way, this is just the foundation for what Social Procurement at The City will be. In the coming years, we plan to expand the reach of this program and develop strategies that support underrepresented groups.