V-Opti - public procurement for upper austrian municipalities (V-Opti)

Published on: 02/06/2007

V-Opti enhances the quality of public procurement V-Opti supports bidders by offering them a homogeneous public procurement procedure; V-Opti enhances cooperation between Upper Austrian public authorities. Austria issued a new public procurement law in 2002. Linz, the capital of Upper Austria developed a software for its public procurement procedures. The software helps the user, to apply public procurement rules but also the internal organisation law correctly. The OÖ Gemeindebund bought the software and together with the Städtebund Landesgruppe OÖ, the City of Linz and the Land Oberösterreich adapted it for all municipalities in Upper Austria.

Policy Context

1. National

1.1. Legal Public Procurement Law in Austria got a new shape in 2002, when the Bundesvergabesetz 2002 (BVergG 2002) was issued. This law not only implemented EU regulations in the area of public procurement, but also was the answer to national constitutional jurisdiction of the Verfassungsgerichtshof. In Austria therefore we do have a rather complex set of regulations not only above the threshold values stipulated by the EU, but also below these thresholds. The BVergG 2002 got into force on July the 1st, 2003. It also addressed all Austrian municipalities. For them it was an absolute new area of legislation. They of course needs help to implement this new legislation. 1.2. E-Government The Austrian Government started the initiative "Digitales Österreich" (www.digitales.oesterreich.gv.at) to enhance E-Government in Austria. V-Opti is certainly one step in this process. Austira achieved its leading E-Government Position in Europe certainly because of this integrated strategy.

2. European

2.1. Law Of course V-Opti supports the implementation of EU legislation in the area of public procurement (RL 2004/17/EG and 2004/18/EG). But it is not limited to this aspect. 2.2. Other areas of EU-Policies V-Opti supports general EU-Policies as the improvement of transparency, the SME issue and of course the overall aim of bringing EU topics nearer to the citizen. 2.3. i2010 initiative Of course V-Opti fits perfect in the i2010 initiative of the EU!

Description of target users and groups

Public procurement makes for about 15 % of the GDP of the EU. It has a huge impact on the public and the private sector. The legal framework - European and national - in this area got rather complex and complicated. It is essential to provide adequate instruments for public authorities to administrate this area and on the other hand guarantee, that bidders get an optimal environment, so that the overall goals of enhancing market integration and economic growth are met. 1. Upper Austrian Municipalities V-Opti supports Upper Austrian municipalities. The 444 Municipalities in Upper Austria are rather small (average size of about 2.000 inhabitants). Often only three employees have to manage a wide range of different duties. Therefore the Upper Austrian Association of Municipalities tries to provide simple but in any context sufficient instruments for its 441 members to support them. Actually V-Opti is used by over 360 municipalities in Upper Austria. In the meantime its also used in Carinthia and Styria. 2. Upper Austrian public authorities V-Opti is a cooperation (see above). This guarantees not only a high level of synergy and efficiency. As far as we see V-Opti is one of the first projects bringing all public authorities of Upper Austria together. V-Opti - which is online since March 2004 - brought a permanent exchange in this area in-between public authorities. It triggered a sustainable process of cooperation. 3. Private Business Sector Of course the main aim of V-Opti is to make public procurement procedures more transparent and easier to handle for bidders. Enterprises - especially important for SME - find a homogenous public procurement "landscape" in Upper Austria! 4. Citizen Last but not least, V-Opti serves our citizens, because efficient administration in this important area is in the interest of the tax payer.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

In Austria we have a saying: "Das Rad nicht immer wieder neu erfinden" - it means "do not invent the wheel over and over again" respectively "use the tool already available". So we did not create a new instrument, but adapted the existing one. 1. Synergy The first issue was to use synergy effects. Not only because its saving time and money setting up the new solution, but also because - in respect of the given structure in Upper Austria - the instrument (V-Opti) as a side effect created a new platform, bringing together the responsible persons on a regular and structured basis. 2. Cooperation Our concept was and is cooperation. There are only advantages bringing together all relevant players. Of course there is a plus of coordination work - but that is a good investment regarding the outcome - a consistent and broadly at all relevant levels accepted instrument. 3. Sustainability For us it is very important, that we did not set up the project and that is it. Not only because public procurement is an a fast developing and changing area but also because regular meetings are essential for "keeping the instrument alive". Multi-channel issues: Because V-Opti is for public use only, it is a software that can be used exclusively in a closed intranet (oberösterreichisches Gemnet). On the other hand V-Opti as an ASP solution can be serviced centrally, so there is no need to update the software locally for the users. The users only need an up to date internet browser. At the moment we try to implement a single sign on solution using the "Stammportal" of Austrian municipalities www.kommunalnet.at.

Main results, benefits and impacts

V-Opti is available for all 444 Upper Austrian Municipalities. At the moment more than 360 municipalities (that means estimated far beyond 500 persons as users) are using V-Opti and administrate thousands of public procurement procedures with this instrument. Because V-Opti is an Intranet solution, it is - of course - not accessible via Internet. Because of the high number of users we created an E-Learning tool explaining V-Opti to the users. V-Opti is also used in Carinthia an Styria. Innovation: V-Opti is a step from E-Government to E-Governance! First the project is carried by a cooperation of public authorities and institutions of the public sector. Second V-Opti is absolute not mandatory for the municipalities using it. This is not only an outcome of the Austrian principle of autonomy of municipalities but in the fist place a new strategy. Not a bottom down but a governance approach is the underlying philosophy.

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Track record of sharing

V-Opti was implemented for all municipalities in Upper Austria in 2004. In the meantime it is also adapted and implemented for all municipalities in Carinthia and some municipalities in Styria, especially its capital, Graz. The association of municipalities in The Tyrol also plans to implement V-Opti there. Furthermore other public bodies (social sector, water sector) showed their interest.

Lessons learnt

Its often a waste of time to invent an absolute knew instrument - look around, try to find an adequate already existing instrument and use it as the basis of your solution

Cooperation pays off - do not judge a cooperation by the "costs" of starting it up, but by the effects you earn after the cooperation works!

Do not plan point to point - in an accelerating fast changing environment a project only can bring sustainable effects, when you think it as a process!

Scope: National, Regional (sub-national)