Publicly owned companies, public authorities and suppliers of the EU Member States are obliged to apply the European public procurement regulation when purchasing goods, services and public works above the defined European thresholds. Even when announcing below the thresholds, they need to follow the EC Treaty principles of transparency and non-discrimination. All actors involved are forced to ensure transparent procedures and fair conditions of competitions for suppliers.
Public companies and authorities as well as their suppliers face a rather complex system of public procurement procedures. Officials responsible for public procurement need to get familiar with the recent legal changes in the field of public procurement as well as the best pre and post award phase strategies to ensure their public institution gets the goods or services they need.
In times of austerity, audits of public procurements have gained in importance. However, practitioners from public administrations often find auditing public procurement processes to be one of the most challenging and complex fields to audit. Misspent public money in low quality services and goods can endanger both the financial and operational integrity of an organisation.
For a contracting authority to ensure that contractual terms and conditions are realised in the execution phase, contract management is key. During the public procurement process a contracting authority puts a lot of time and effort into identifying reliable business partners, negotiating favourable terms, and ensuring a strong basis for the award decision.
Advanced hands-on experience, operative know-how and thorough knowledge of procedures and risks are necessary to ensure clear, effective and reliable procurement procedures. While the new EU procurement directives require more flexibility, transparency and fulfilment of high qualitative, environmental, social and innovation standards, many contracting authorities still favour lowest price criterion as the safest and fastest procedure. Yet, many examples prove that the lowest price does not always mean lowest costs and therefore needs to be extended by additional criteria.
The new EU Directives on Public Procurement implicate a number of modifications and bring in some significant changes, particularly to the range of contracts subject to the EU public procurement regime.
With the new public procurement directive 2014/24/EU, which has come into effect in 2014, the European Commission has introduced a number of opportunities that allow for more flexibility in the procurement process while upholding the basic requirements of competition, transparency and equal treatment.