Insufficient data is hindering reforms to public sector procurement in Scotland, according to a new report from the devolved government.

Although improvements have been made to the processes by which public sector bodies award contracts and source supplies, the report says more and better information on outcomes, and the impact of procurement reform would ease the path to a better system.

The report, commissioned by the government to look at how reform is developing around Europe, is intended to help point politicians in the right direction with their own Procurement Reform Bill.

Among its major findings, it says that all EU member states are suffering from "a lack of evidence of the outcomes achieved from public sector contracts spend," which is in turn making it harder to develop and implement meaningful reform.

Because member states are not fully aware of the details of their procurement spending, the report says that governments and public sector bodies and struggling to develop strategies for the effective targeting of their remaining budgets.

Since varying amounts of data are available across the 27 nations of the EU, the report calls for Europe-wide standards on the amount and quality of purchasing data to be collected. In terms of its implications for Scotland, the document claims that Holyrood must take steps to increase the amount of information available for monitoring and evaluating the success of procurement practices so that better management procedures can be developed.

The European Commission and individual member states have renewed efforts to sharpen their purchasing practices recently. At a meeting in July, the EU Competitiveness Council agreed that switching to online procurement would maximise efficiency by integrating different processes. At the same time, this would help to keep Europe competitive as a business destination, ministers said.

In the UK, Whitehall is planning to bring the majority of government purchasing under the remit of a single procurement team. The Cabinet Office says that the development will allow officials to make the most of bulk deals on such products as energy for government buildings.

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