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EU Public Procurement Review – How Does Your Country Score?

The European Commission has recently published its Annual Report and Single Market Scorecard, which reviews how all the countries of the EU are performing against a number of criteria.

“The Annual Report provides a clear picture on how the Commission monitored and enforced European Union law in 2015 and the Single Market Scoreboard reveals that barriers to the free movement of persons, services, goods and capital in the EU are being eliminated in most areas. The constructive compliance dialogue between the Commission and Member States increasingly leads to compliance issues being resolved without the need to resort to formal procedures”.

That all sounds good, but the report highlights that in some areas, matters are “stalling or even worsening”, with new barriers being erected. And this was all written before the Brexit UK referendum of course which is hardly likely to “improve” matters.

The element of the report and scorecard that interests us most is, of course, the Public Procurement section. That looks at six different indicators and assesses each country against them. Those indicators are;

One bidder – the proportion of contracts awarded where there was just one bidder (excluding framework agreements, as they have different reporting patterns).

No Calls for Bids – the proportion of procurement procedures that were negotiated with a company without a call for tender.

Aggregation –  how often public buyers buy together, so the proportion of procurement procedures with more than one public buyer.

Award Criteria – how public buyers choose the companies they award contracts to; this indicator measures whether they decide only on the basis of price, or also take quality into account.

Decision speed – the mean decision period. This is the time between the deadline for receipt of offers (or requests to participate) and the award of the contract. To ensure comparability, only notices under the open procedure are considered.

Reporting Quality – measures the proportion of contracts awarded containing no information about the value of the contracts awarded (excluding framework agreements, as they have different reporting patterns). This represents the content of notices as a whole.

No methodology is perfect and we could find some flaws here – for instance, the “no calls for bids” would be more powerful if it looked at the value of the contracts awarded without competition, rather than the proportion. If the 10% without competition are the largest 10%, then we would be more worried than if it is all smaller contracts. But on the whole, and given the constraints on what data is available, these are pretty good metrics to consider. The Commission then gives a three-times weighting to the first two factors in order to come up with the final overall score for each country.

And the winners, with overall “Green” ratings are; Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the UK.  

The biggest factor pulling a lot of other countries down from a green rating to amber or red is the “one bidder” factor – more than half the countries score a “red” rating there, which given the strong weighting pulls them down overall. Estonia for instance scores green on all the other criteria but because of a red rating for “one bidder”, the country gets an overall amber.

Anyway, it is all interesting and well worth a look – the press release for the overall report is here, and the public procurement section is here. We may well come back to the detail in further articles too.