In public procurement, we are accustomed to the gradual development of legislation and procurement practices. In recent decades, the legislative jungle has changed slowly and in baby steps. Our current 2017 Act on Public Contracts is just an improved version of the 2007 Act. Many things changed only slightly and there was no need for learning many new things. The concepts remained roughly the same. An open procedure still means the same as at the beginning of time: all tenderers who meet the tenderer’s eligibility criteria can participate. Contracting entity and contracting authority are terms that we use fluently in our everyday conversation.
However, the pace of change is accelerating. One of the factors contributing to the acceleration is the digitalisation of procurement, which is also being strongly pursued by the European Commission. Brussels and Luxembourg have woken up to the fact that previous processes and workflows designed for the paper world do not work in the digital world. Things need to be thought differently and designed to the digital world. This also means that the old models drawn for paper world need to be binned.
As the pace of change is accelerating, I thought of starting a series of blog posts outlining the Commission’s latest ideas on the expanding digitalisation of procurement, the potential impact of these initiatives and ideas, and the measures the Commission hopes or expects from Member States.
With kind support of the Ministry of Finance, I have been able to participate in the work of the “Multi-stakeholder Expert Group on eProcurement” set up by the Commission in 2016. The group was originally set up by the Commission as a discussion group where people involved in practical implementation in the Member States could exchange ideas, present their digital implementations and, above all, learn from each other. Over the years, we have discussed, among others, the idea of electronic signatures required from the tenderers when submitting a bid, the ESPD (European Single Procurement Document), the eCertis directory and eCatalogues.
During 2020 and 2021, we have been working on the future: we have done data modelling for the plan-to-contract process, considered the novel way of publishing contract notices (eForms) which is to be deployed in 2022 and how the change brought about the eForms should be implemented in the Member States. In the latest EXEP virtual meeting that took place at the end of April we were presented the Commission’s initiative to set up an EU-wide but decentralized procurement Data Space.
All of these and more I’ll address in my blog series. If the Commission still arranges meetings on the spot in Brussels or Luxembourg after the travel and movement restrictions of last year, I will also report on the moods and issues in video form. That’s when this BLOG becomes a VLOG!
Stay tuned, follow our blog and State Treasury’s social media posts and tweets!
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Public Procurement Ontology -project