Is the Portugese solution for direct procurement below threshold value the answer?

All signed public contracts in Portugal can be found in the web portal BASE
Is the Portugese solution for direct procurement below threshold value the answer?

 

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For a long time, Portugal has had a system for detecting direct procurement - both over and under EU/EEA threshold value. If the contract is nowhere to be found in the public announcement and/or contact database, it is simply invalid, and it can apply financial and legal consequences for both buyers and suppliers. Regularly inspections and audits are conducted to check status.

An important topic covering the raised national threshold values, has been the question concerning how interested suppliers will find the contracts they want to bid on.

Below these threshold values, there is no obligation to announce the contract. This will in worst-case result in only the chosen supplier actually knowing about the contract, while other suppliers will miss out on the opportunity. Hence, a Portuguese solution might be worth considering. Director Pedro Ministro is central in Portugal’s authorities and is responsible for public procurements. Among others, he is in charge of the web portal BASE. In this portal, you will find all settled public contracts and unqualified procedures. In addition, he is project manager for Portugal’s national register of suppliers in the public sector.

 

Open tender competitions

Pedro Ministro explains that open tender competitions must be announced in Impresa Nacional Casa de Moeda. At the same time, the competition will be sent directly to the BASE-portal where all public contracts are collected. This is a platform managed by IMPIC (A public department with responsibility for public procurement). In this platform, anyone can check the status of open tender competitions before contract award.

 

Limited competitions

When it comes to limited tender competitions, the Ministro Director explains that it is not necessarily any announcement in advance. However, Portuguese law states that such contracts may only take effect after being published in BASE. This involves that all contracts as a result from direct awarding are public and available, and they are physically and financially operative.

Director Ministro explains that financial sanctions as disciplinary as well can be applicable for buyers that are not following these rules. Portugal has had this system for a long time and the new EU directives is not changing this. The requirements are applicable over and under EU/EEA threshold values.

 

Control of direct procurement

The director does not wish to make any comment on the reason behind the establishment, but he adds a comment with his point of view and says that there has been some uncertainty associated with direct procurement. For open tender competitions, the announcement is an important tool to secure compliance. In the national database for announcements, you could see all procedures chosen. However, one also needs the BASE portal, which in its first edition as well was intended to be a platform where buyers had to publish all direct procurements. In the current edition of BASE, all public contracts are available, regardless of what procedure being used. Through special instructions and audits, it has been verified that the obligation complies with the secured system.

 

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This article first appeared at Anbud365. Norway’s leading online newspaper for public procurement. Published by Lennart Hovland on 31. May 2017.  The full article can be found in Norwegian here.

 

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