Dutch adopt procurement method that encourages innovation and sustainability

The use of functional specifications is an approach to procurement that facilitates innovation in procurement processes, enabling customers and suppliers to discuss where the greatest opportunities for sustainability lie. The approach does away with unilateral criteria, but instead focuses on overall goals to be achieved, leaving greater freedom for innovative approaches.

Functional specifications are general, short and concise, and concerned with outcomes; they do not go into detail on how the outcome should be achieved. As well as leaving greater room for innovation, the approach promotes the development of more sustainable products. To better explain this increasingly common approach, a guide has been developed by the Dutch Government.

This guide will be used to update the country’s sustainable procurement policy and to provide buyers with further information. Ultimately the guide aims to help transform the reactive approach to procurement to a more proactive approach. It is intended that functional specifications will stimulate entrepreneurship to meet defined needs, and will enable a greater number of suppliers to tender for contracts.