The European Commission has launched a consultation on e-procurement, publishing a Green Paper, and asking for contributions on how to speed up and facilitate procurement processes across the EU.
The Green Paper identifies obstacles to faster take-up of e-procurement and assesses the risks that divergent national approaches present for cross-border participation in on-line procurement. It sets out options for overcoming these challenges including regulatory incentives, standardisation and inter operability of systems.
At the same time, the Commission unveiled its new e-CERTIS database, which is a free, web-based tool to help companies and contracting organisations manage the documentation demands encountered when tendering for public contracts in the EU.
e-CERTIS is an on-line storehouse of the documents most frequently requested in the 27 Member States (for example, evidence of compliance with fiscal obligations or social security obligations, or evidence of economic and financial standing). It allows users to identify such documents and match them with their local equivalent.
The use of e-CERTIS will help business operators to reduce costs and uncertainty due to the lack of knowledge about the various certificates requested by the various national contracting authorities.
The European Commission has always promoted the use of information and communication technology in public procurement, noted Internal Market and Services Commissioner Michel Barnier. “Our evaluation shows that where it is being used, it increases the speed and efficiency of public purchasing while significantly cutting the costs when participating in tenders. However, we are only at the beginning of a long road. A push is needed at all levels and we will work together with national governments in order to expand the use of e-procurement,” he said.
The phasing in of e-procurement forms part of the e-Government agenda, which aims to transform the delivery and performance of public administration. In 2009 over 150,000 contracts were advertised EU-wide with an estimated value of around 3 per cent of EU GDP.
The Commission has re-evaluated the Action Plan for electronic procurement published in 2004 and concluded the technology to conduct e-procurement is now ready to be used. In some Member States, up to 5 per cent of procurement procedures above the EU thresholds now involve electronic processing. However, public authorities are often deterred by the significant costs and challenges of the switch-over.
The Green Paper invites comment on how the EU can help Member States to:
- fully exploit e-procurement's potential to simplify and improve public purchasing;
- accelerate the switch-over by providing the right mix of legislative incentives and tools;
- allow operators from other Member States to participate in on-line procurement procedures.
The consultation can be found here. For more information on e-CERTIS, visit: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/publicprocurement/e-certis/index_en.htm