“Useful tools, such as the Guide, are needed by the SSE organisations that are considering putting in tenders”

Interviewing Natàlia González del Pueyo, director of the Business Confederation of the Third Social Sector of Catalonia (La Confederació)

16/10/2023 - 10:41 h - Enterprise Ajuntament de Barcelona

We interviewed the new director of the Business Confederation of the Third Social Sector of Catalonia (La Confederació), Natàlia González del Pueyo, who explained the importance of responsible public procurement and the “Comença a licitar!” [Start tendering] guide.

Four months ago, you were appointed the new Director of La Confederació. What does it mean for you, to be working in this organisation?

It’s a very big challenge as it’s an organisation that represents many non-profit third-sector entities and its goal is to defend entities providing people with social and assistance services. For me, it is also important to share the values of the organisation where you are working. We’ve got lots of challenges ahead and it’s been satisfying to be able to take over its management.

I began my professional career as an immigration expert in several Third Social Sectors entities. I spent the last 17 years working as the Cabinet Chief at the Barcelona Ombudsman’s Office, where I was part of its founding team. And after that, I joined La Confederació. I think there’s always been a common thread whenever I’ve opted for one job or another, and I’ve always made it a priority to be in jobs where the activity is useful in defending the quality of citizens’ lives.

Who forms La Confederació? What sets it apart?

La Confederació is a third-level structure that represents the third sector’s social and entrepreneurial aspects and whose main goal is to strengthen, promote and defend the non-profit sector of assistance services to people. We currently have 1,200 non-profit organisations.

One of La Confederació’s distinctive traits is its cross-sectoral nature. It’s the only entrepreneurial organisation in Catalonia that represents the cross-sectoral nature of these entities from their various areas of action and activity, which are very diverse; from senior citizens, educational recreation, physical and learning disabilities to mental health, social action, early care and so on.

One of the things you have been working on here is the Barcelona Social and Solidarity Economy Strategy for 2030 (#ESSBCN2030). Why is this strategy important, from La Confederació’s point of view? How are you aligned with it?

The Third Social Sector generates considerable economic activity and employment. There are roughly 103,100 people currently employed in Catalonia working in the third social sector.

Here at La Confederació we are defending a people-centred economy, another way of doing business. These are common principles and values of Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) organisations, which is why we’ve been part of the strategy from the very start, and were the driving forces behind the City Agreement for the [Social and Solidarity Economy] Strategy #ESSBCN2030. It’s important for us to be part of this, to be members of the group at the helm, and take part in the various work groups.

In fact, one of the groups you are taking part in is that of responsible public procurement. Why is responsible public purchasing important?

Responsible public purchasing is a key aspect for social transformations, as it integrates ethical, social and environmental criteria into public procurement procedures. This enables certain aspects to be taken into account relating to gender equality, sustainability, job placements for people at risk of social exclusion and so on. Social and Solidarity Economy entities can be presented with their projects in this context and compete with other operators in a broad and complex market. It’s an important aspect for SSE organisations, because it facilitates their access to public procurement, seeing that it takes features and values into consideration that the sector prioritises in its work and in the services it offers.

One of the tools that have been developed by this group is the “Comença a licitar!” [Start tendering] guide. Where did the idea of making this guide come from?

The guide’s aim, its purpose, is to be a useful and practical tool for all the SSE entities that are considering putting in tenders or which have already done so, and to be able to give them a complete view, extensive knowledge of everything that tendering procedures entail within the area of public procurement.

They are highly diverse procedures which can sometimes be complex. The guide also aims to be a tool that provides practical tips and strategies. Another aspect it has is to help to enable the projects and proposals presented by entities to be competitive and successful… to allow entitles to improve their proposals within the framework of such tenders.

So, how was this guide put together?

The public procurement guide was a project that came about from this public procurement group, within the framework of the Barcelona SSE Strategy for 2030 (ESSBCN2030), and was financially supported by Barcelona City Council through an Enfortim l’ESS 2022 subsidy. It’s a shared guide, jointly launched by five third-sector entities: DINCAT, ECOM, ECAS i FEICAT, and La Confederació itself, having done our bit in the project’s overall coordination.

As you’d expect, it was also drafted in accordance with SSE criteria. The enterprises that prepared the guide, from the point of view of both content and design, are also SSE businesses. The guide’s theoretical content was drafted by FACTO Cooperativa, who are a team with considerable expertise in the field, while all the graphic designs came from Saó Prat.

What is the guide like?

It’s a very practical online guide, very easy to use and very intuitive. You can peruse it from start to end, but you can also browse through several sections interchangeably. It’s a free-access guide. Everyone, then, can download it, as it’s in our interests that it reaches as many people and entities as possible.

It starts with a nomenclature of basic concepts. After that, it has a more theoretical part on the tendering process for enterprises and organisations; from the regulations to be known, the types of contracts and procedures in use, the requirements for tendering, how a tender is put in and so on. This is the guide’s most extensive sections.

It also includes an interesting chapter dealing with the key strategies and aspects for preparing value proposals, with practical tools to enable entities to improve their projects. It has a common errors part, which is also a very useful section, and a final part with questions.

It’s a useful guide for all tenders in general in the area of public procurement for public authorities, not just Barcelona City Council.

The guide will help to enable SSE organisations and enterprises to improve through these public procurement processes. And what other measures would be needed for facilitating effective responsibility in public procurement?

There is a specific type of public procurement, reserved contracts, which promote employment and social and job placements for groups in more socially vulnerable situations, and only certain organisations are able to put in a tender for them. As for other types of contracts, it’s important the prevailing criteria are not always offers with the least financial cost, but consider, as we were saying before, the incorporation of socially responsible clauses adapted to each type of contract, and that they can be included in the various stages of the procurement process.

How has the “Comença a licitar!” [Start tendering] guide been received?

The truth is, we’re very happy given that 200 individuals were registered on the day of the presentation, and a lot of people and entities were able to follow the presentation of the guide. It was very exciting. We will be spreading the word as much as we can, as will the entities. We currently have 1,010 downloads from the webpage, and over 1,200 views on X/Twitter.

We expect the guide to go a long way. Of course, there is one important issue: its updating. The subject of public procurement is very broad and changing. It’s an issue to consider, how this guide will be gradually updated in the future, following all the regulatory changes in public procurement that may arise.

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