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Procurex Scotland 2015: Meet the Director

Tuesday September 22nd, 2015

Ainslie McLaughlin

In anticipation of his keynote speech at Procurex Scotland 2015, Scottish Government Director of Procurement and Commercial Ainslie McLaughlin told Government Opportunities features writer Julie Shennan about his new role.

Following Alastair Merrill’s recent departure, Mr McLaughlin joins Scottish Procurement and Commercial Directorate from Transport Scotland, where he was Director of Major Transport Infrastructure Projects (MTRIPS). Mr McLaughlin will start his new role at the end of September 2015.

Mr McLaughlin said: “Before I entered the world of procurement I had viewed myself first as an engineer, and then as a civil servant. But It was inevitable that I would become involved in procurement at some point, because a big part of delivering road improvements involves purchasing consultants’ and contractors’ services.”

Having studied civil engineering at university Mr McLaughlin went into the construction industry, focusing on roads and transport. From there he went to work in local government before joining the Scottish Office for Transport in the late eighties.

There he became a senior engineer and then chief engineer, responsible for motorway and trunk road programmes.  Next Mr McLaughlin was promoted to the role of Director of Major Transport Infrastructure Projects (MTRIPS) at Transport Scotland.

This role in turn inspired Mr McLaughlin to join the Scottish Government Procurement and Commercial team.

He said: “Transport Scotland is one of the biggest spenders of public money in the country; while I worked there I had experience dealing with a range of complex contractual and commercial problems. I also had the privilege of working with both the ex-Director of Procurement, Alistair Merrill, and his predecessor; who shared their knowledge of best procurement practice.”

This experience paid off and, in September 2015, Mr McLaughlin was named Scottish Government Director of Procurement and Commercial.

He said: “When I heard I had got the job as Director of Procurement and Commercial at the Scottish Government I was initially delighted and then a bit apprehensive.

 “My biggest apprehension was doing justice to the next stage of the Scottish Government’s Procurement Reform agenda. The first two stages were a great success in boosting collaborative procurement and transparency; they opened public contracts to a wider range of suppliers, including Scottish SMEs.

“The next stage of procurement reform is going to be even more challenging; it is going to involve even closer collaboration with local authorities and the rest of the public sector, to spread procurement reform to Cat C groups.”

Although Mr McLaughlin recognised there was much work still to do, he took heart from the professionalism of his new team, and the thrill of new challenges.

He said: “My new position covers the whole spectrum of government activities; so there is opportunity to positively impact the way that government procures and manages its business.”

This means ensuring Scottish Government contractors use fair work practices and are encouraged to adopt the living wage.

 Mr McLaughlin explained: “Nowadays a lot is being asked of government procurement, at all levels; people want to see their taxes being used to drive value for money and community benefits. This drive means that we need to open up the supply chain as much as possible to Scottish businesses, including SMEs.” 

He continued: “To do this the Scottish Government has been engaging with the supply chain from the very early stages, ensuring it understands its requirements.

“We work hard to help our suppliers realise that, through responsible procurement, they can deliver better public services and economic growth for Scotland.”

This is the message Mr McLaughlin will deliver during his Procurex Scotland 2015 speech.

He said: “My speech at Procurex will describe how the Scottish Government will take forward its third phase of procurement reform; rolling out the changes we have already made to the rest of the public sector.”

He added: “I am also looking forward to networking and learning from various public and private sector organisations at Procurex Scotland. There is a lot of good practice out there and we can all pull this knowledge, using it in our own areas.”

Celebrating this good practice, Mr McLaughlin will also attending the 2015 GO Awards, which recognise excellence in public sector procurement.

He said: “I was on the judging panel for the Scottish GO Awards and I always like to see the finalists get recognition on the night. These awards are important in celebrating the hard work and success going on in the community.

 “And speaking from the Scottish Government’s perspective, it allows organisations to understand our aims.”

He concluded: “I would strongly encourage procurement professionals and suppliers to come along to the GO Awards and Procurex Scotland and learn about the latest developments here in Scotland.”

To book a place or find information on Procurex Scotland and the GO Awards, visit the events websites.





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