PIANOo-desk, the interactive community on public procurement (PIANOo-desk)

Published on: 15/09/2008
In order to improve the level of compliance to European regulations on public procurement the Dutch government established PIANOo. Public officers can go to PIANOo for information, advice or practical tips. To this end, PIANOo collects information and experiences in the field of public procurement and facilitates the exchange of knowledge between procurement bodies. In this paper interoperability is defined as the exchange of information and sharing of knowledge between organisations without specific technical requirements The most successful tool of PIANOo is the virtual community. PIANOo-desk. Right from the start it was a huge success. PIANOo-desk is basically a virtual office. Sometimes users have similar jobs but work in different departments. PIANOo-desk reduces the distance between such users. This is what we call Interoperability on a regional and national level. In this paper the reasons for the success are analysed. It was concluded that the most important reasons for the success of PIANOo-desk as an information platform are based on the willingness of the participants to share their knowledge on a relatively new field of interest in a trusted environment which is moderated by people they can trust and who actively help them to get their answer. With this information the next step was made with the launching of the European Union Public Procurement Learning Lab. This relatively new site already has members from 28 countries. This indicates that there is room for European interoperability on this subject, especially as two related organisations, the Europe INNOVA project STEPPIN and the European Public Procurement Network have joined or will join the network. It is concluded that interoperability becomes a quality of increasing importance for information technology products as the concept that "The network is the computer" becomes a reality.

Policy Context

Directive 2004/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004 on the coordination of procedures for the award of public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts

Description of target users and groups

Public officers (procurers, lawyers, policymakers) from 443 municipalities, 12 provinces, 13 ministeries and 28 waterboards (Primary target group) and a.o. police, hospitals, univesities, primary and secundary schools, health services (secundary target group). At the moment 2.700 members

Description of the way to implement the initiative

PIANOo-desk is basically a virtual office. Sometimes users have similar jobs but work in different departments. In such cases colleagues are often not simply 'around the corner'. PIANOo-desk reduces the distance between such users. Questions can be asked as naturally as if the users were sitting at the desk opposite. Communication also becomes much easier and better structured. Many communities use PIANOo-desk as a knowledge platform, a place where they can exchange information, knowledge, experiences, and best practices simply and quickly. At the moment we have about forty communities or subgroups. Each subgroup has its own moderator who is responsible for the acceptance of new members and the content within that group. PIANOo takes care of administration and functional management. We also moderate discussions, look for answers if they are not given by the community and we call back to see if answers are satisfactory.

Technology solution

Sharing knowledge is a natural part of everybody’s work. For civil servants the concept of sharing knowledge is beyond question very important. We are paid by taxpayers and we have the duty to make the most out of this money. Especially when it comes to the public procurement of goods, services or works the taxpayer trusts us to spend his money in the most economic way. Public procurement is a relatively new area of interest. Information and knowledge is spread among different purchasers. Often it is not known who has which piece of information. In many cases the knowledge remains locked in the head of the professional who acquired the knowledge; knowledge which can be very useful for other professionals PIANOo-desk works basically as a knowledge storage system, but it has many characteristics of the knowledge stream approach. Technology choice: Mainly (or only) open standards

Main results, benefits and impacts

a) In the evaluation of our organisation (end 2007) a 7.4 was given as user satisfaction (n=652). It was concluded that PIANOo-desk is an important network for the exchange of knowledge and experience in the field of public procurement. b)NL could propose realistic options for electronic tools (remark from mr Gauthier Pierens,Chef d'unité adjoint DG Marché intérieur) on the setup of the European Public Procurement Network d/f) The EU Lab on public procurement is the Euopean version of this initiative. g) Other organisations in the Netherlands (Ministery of Education, Senter Novem on sustainability and a variety of regional initiatives) as wel as the EU INNOVA project STEPPIN have joined PIANOo-desk or the EU-Lab. h/i) We work closely together with the Dutch Society on Procurement. Contact has been made with the European initiative E-practice j)Support for mutual learning The Dutch central government’s procurement agency PIANOo set up an electronic platform for discussion and exchange of information, the PIANOo-desk. The objective was to profit from mutual procurement intelligence. Currently 2000 contracting authorities are registered at all levels of government. Information in the network is accessible to all public procurement practitioners, even the smallest community, online. Sharing experiences is providing a strong stimulus for innovation in procurement COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT GUIDE ON DEALING WITH INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS IN PUBLIC PROCUREMENT (Brussels, 23.2.2007 SEC(2007) 280)

Return on investment

Return on investment: €5,000,000-10,000,000

Track record of sharing

In order to compare the activities and to share useful knowledge among the European procurement agencies, the Italian Department of Public Administration, jointly with the Ministry of Economy and Finance and Consip SpA, launched on November 2003 the EU Public Procurement Learning Lab (Eulab). Up to 27 different Countries joined the EU-Lab: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom. The objectives of the EU-Lab are similar to those of PIANOo and thus PIANOo, in the end of 2006, launched the EU-Lab discussion platform. At the moment the platform already counts 127 members from 28 countries. Last year the Europe INNOVA project STEPPIN joined the website (figure 5). STandards in European Public Procurement lead to INnovation - will explore how referencing open standards in European public procurement processes can foster innovative business solutions amongst bidding companies. Later this year the PPN will probably join the community. The European Public Procurement Network (PPN) is a co-operation network of public procurement expert officials, dedicated to European companies taking part in procurement procedures in other countries of the network than theirs. It involves all EU Member States, EU candidate countries, EEA Members and Switzerland. Furthermore we are enabling the possibility for other countries to start their own group within the Eu-Lab. Even more interesting are the ideas of sharing information on a world wide scale. While elaborating on this thought I was approached by a member of the South African government who asked if it was possible to set up together a world wide Wiki on definitions on procurement. With these examples it is clear that there is also room for international interoperability.

Lessons learnt

1) Managerial level is the real target group At first all our atttention was given to the operational level. Bus only after we started to approach the managerial level witH the keywords Accountability, Compliance to the rules and Savings things reallyt started to work out. 2)Trust and reward are prime motivators We are strict to keep PIANOo-desk an trusted, password protected environment. This improves to will to freely share information especially as aliases are not allowed and it is obligatory to mention the organisation you work for. we also promote the uploading of pictures and personal information to improve the community feeling. People who visit regulary, ask a lot of questions, give a lot of answers or a very good answer are interviewd in ou magazine and our portal, asked to present a case or inivted as chairperson for meetings or member of expertgroups. This is very much appreciated and improves the willingness to share information. 3) Show that you are there for them PIANOo monitors if answers to questions are given. If within a week there is no contribution to a discussion or question we bring the discussion again under the attention of all users. If there is still no answer PIANOo actively searches for someone who can give an answer. If even that fails we respond ourselves. As part of the moderation users are called by phone to inquire if the given answers were satisfactorily. If not the whole process is repeated Furthermote we actively moderate the discussions. All legal questions will be moderated by a lawyer who breaks into a discussion if answers are not correct, according to law. Extensive discussions will be summarized or translated to Frequently Asked Questions or best practises Scope: Local (city or municipality), National, Regional (sub-national)