In 2017, the City of Calgary developed a questionnaire specifically tailored to soliciting information about the corporate sustainability practices of suppliers that provide products and services related to the City’s fleet.

In the past, the City had used a Standard SEEPP (Sustainable Ethical and Environmental Procurement Policy) Sustainability Leadership Questionnaire for all applicable contracts, regardless of what commodity or industry they fell into. Although this resulted in a consistent approach to evaluating the sustainability practices of their supplier community, it didn’t necessarily address the specific concerns of a particular industry or commodity area. The theory was that an industry-specific questionnaire might yield richer and more meaningful information.

Several business units were engaged in the process, including Environmental & Safety Management, Supply, and Fleet. The stakeholders conducted meetings and spent time developing and formatting the questionnaire. Although engaging a broader group of stakeholders presented some challenges with respect to competing priorities and hectic work schedules, engaging these parties in open, transparent dialogue to find the right questions to ask suppliers allowed for the development of a successful questionnaire.

The Outcome

The questionnaire was piloted in several Fleet contracts during the year, including one for tires, and another for hired trucks. In general, the responses from vendors were impressive in terms of environmental initiatives and social considerations. Industry specificity allowed for a shorter, more concise questionnaire, which was also easier to evaluate. Through this pilot, the City of Calgary determined that applying industry- or commodity-specific supplier sustainability questions can enhance the quality of the information received from suppliers, and help ensure you are communicating with them in terms that they understand. Achieving buy-in from the Fleet department from the start was very important to launching the questionnaire. Investing the time to meet with the department and understand their concerns and needs, and demonstrating the potential value of including sustainability as part of the evaluation, were key success factors.

Source: The State of Sustainable Public Procurement in Canada, 2017

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