11 January 2013

MEPs argue public procurers should look beyond lowest cost in awarding bids

Internal market MEPs have rejected the idea that public procurement contracts should go purely to the lowest cost bidder, believing they should be awarded to the most “advantageous” bidder, assessed also on environmental or social criteria. The comments came as MEPs voted on new EU procurement rules in December 2012. MEPs also improved an optional "innovation" provision, to enable bidders to suggest how best to meet specifications set out in the contract.

MEPs wish to see greener and more socially responsible public procurement, whereby organisations take into account environmental considerations, such as sustainability and life cycle costs, or social objectives, such as buying from firms with a particular social profile. "We want a public procurement market in Europe that serves European citizens. We also want to make sure that public money is spent in a more socially responsible way", said Parliament rapporteur Marc Tarabella. His draft report on Public Procurement was approved by 23 votes in favour, 8 against and 7 abstentions.

To encourage innovative suggestions, MEPs expanded upon the concept of "innovation partnerships" in which the authority states the minimum requirements that a good or service must fulfil, but leaves it up to the tenderer how best to achieve these goals. MEPs also proposed a "procurement passport" to show that a firm fulfils the criteria without having to send in documentation every time they make a bid. Proposed rules enabling public authorities to subdivide contracts into lots, so as to enable small firms to bid for them, were also simplified.

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