Fabian Demicoli

E-Procurement – What the report drawn by Vince Farrugia for EESC recommends

 Green Paper on expanding the use of e-Procurement in the EU – The Section for the Single Market, Production and Consumption, which was responsible for preparing the Committee's work on the subject, adopted its opinion as prepared by Rapporteur Vince Farrugia on 23rd June 2011. The opinion recommends as follows:

 

implementation of an inter-European e-procurement framework is a cornerstone for the proper functioning of commerce within the internal market given the importance of public procurement vis-à-vis the GDP of each Member State; and

deployment of e-procurement up to local public administration level is to be considered as an important policy instrument as e-procurement:

reduces cost for business and public administration;

results in a streamlined procurement process, particularly if e-procurement instruments such as e-Auction and Dynamic Purchasing are selected leading to faster decision making;

results in greater transparency and reduces real and perceived malfeasance in procurement;

is a vehicle to the further attainment of an information society.

3) A review of the e-procurement framework cannot be carried out independently of a review of the legal framework for public procurement. e-Procurement is a channel that enables public procurement policy to be carried out more efficiently, effectively and economically. It is important that there is cohesion and a joint-up approach is adopted in this regard.

4) The implementation of e-procurement across Member States has not met expectations set out in the 2004 Action Plan. Be that as it may. It must be recognised that best practice examples exist. One such best practice is the holistic implementation approach to e-procurement adopted by Portugal – which merits commendation.

5) The multi-pronged approach whereby every Member State adopted its own time-frame vis-à-vis e-procurement implementation failed to meet the desired results and instead led to further distancing from the desired objective of an agreed unified system. The EESC recommends that it is now of paramount importance for the EC through the Directorate for Internal Markets and Services together with the Directorate for the Information Society to adopt strong and effective leadership (similar to that adopted with the e-Europe Agenda) to achieve an integrated, inter-operable, and business/technology standardised e-procurement framework across Member States. This would ensure that while no activity by any individual Member State is taken that further endangers the achievement of the desirable target, action is actually implemented that furthers the implementation over an agreed time-frame of an approved cohesion approach.

6)The EC, in stewarding e-procurement implementation, should encourage Member States to seek innovative solutions to overcome business procedures and language issues.

7) The Commission, in tandem with assuming a leadership role, should act as a ''champion'' by adopting e-procurement across its institutions.

8) A reinforcement of the importance of e-procurement as a vehicle to spur pan-European commerce within the internal market. Business processes and technology should spur commerce in the internal market rather than by design act as trade barriers.

9) Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of entrepreneurship in the EU. It is imperative that the work resulting from the review of the public procurement and the e-procurement frameworks respectively is directed to unleash SMEs' ability to compete in an e-procurement environment. It is therefore recommended that:

all calls for public procurement in Member States – below as well as above the threshold – are published in the portal of the national contracting authority;

SMEs are assisted either through direct capacity building initiatives, setting up of support centres by national, regional contracting authorities or constituted bodies representing SMEs through national and EU financing – to ensure that SMEs embrace and leverage e‑procurement.

10) E-procurement architecture should be interoperable and based on open standards and open source software.

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