DG MARKT of the European Commission has recently published a draft version of the Golden Book of e-Procurement good practices. It consists of a set of 24 good practices helping contracting authorities and economic operators to successfully implement e-Procurement in Europe.
e-Procurement is enabled in the EU Member States’ national legislations and infrastructure and tools are, in general, in place. Yet, the Commission estimates that, on average, “less than 5% of total procurement budgets in the first‐mover Member States is awarded through electronic systems” (Green Paper on expanding the use of eProcurement in the EU).
DG MARKT of the EC has pointed out that the considerable variation in platforms and service models is a major obstacle to the wide adoption of e- Procurement and an important barrier to cross-border and SME participation. E-Procurement platforms are often not user-friendly, and trying to access and learn how to use them is often inefficient and frustrating, in particular, for foreign economic operators.
In order to facilitate the uptake of e-Procurement in Europe, the EC proposed new Directives for public procurement in December 2011, introducing mandatory public e-Procurement after 2016 (including e-Tendering). The approval of these new Directives is expected by early 2013. However, these recent legislative proposals alone are not a sufficient condition for the successful implementation of e-Procurement in the European Union.
A number of non-legislative flanking measures are needed in order to support the Member States in their transition to full e-Procurement in a single market. Any such flanking measures or other future intervention by the Commission should be enhanced by lessons learned from the ‘field’ so it can be relevant and overcome current barriers efficiently and effectively.
While the average level of e-Procurement usage is low, there are still valuable lessons to be learnt. E-Procurement good practices are present all over Europe, but are difficult to identify. The e-Procurement Golden Book aims at making them available in a single point of access, helping contracting authorities and economic operators to successfully practice e-Procurement.
The e-Procurement Golden Book project consisted of 3 main phases:
- Identification of 300 existing e-Procurement platforms on a pan-European level;
- Selection, testing and in-depth assessment of 30 platforms against criteria such as interoperability, accessibility, ease of use and cost-effectiveness ; and
- Extraction, classification and organisation of good practices.