Governments increasingly tend to rely on external entities for the delivery of public services. That makes procurement a subject of additional public scrutiny, but does not remove accountability from the procuring body (an authority structure). Procurement for innovation grows in importance with respect to innovation policies, since it could be used as a tool to promote innovation in businesses by stimulating competitiveness. The problem is that little or nothing is done to develop indicators concerning procurement practices, and particularly their role in stimulating innovations.
Outside vendors are often the only entities that could design and implement (on behalf of the requesting authority) an innovation strategy, plan, service, or product. They give the example of e-government, the supporting infrastructure of which is typically outsourced to outside vendors due to the specific and highly specialised nature of the product. That means that a significant share of the necessary knowledge is not within the delegating authority, while at the same time the delegating authority needs to be competent enough to specify the exact tasks, parameters, compliance standards, and other specialised details. Without proper expertise, the relationship between the delegating authority and the outside vendor may pose a threat to the authority’s accountability, and even to the privacy of users. Hence, such a relationship is typically very complex, and how it affects the public interest should be analysed and made clear to all involved parties.
Public procurement (PP) is the process used by government institutions and public sector organisations to buy supplies, services and public works.
According to the methodology of CCIC there are three problem areas in regard to public procurement: Insufficient cost-efficiency, missed opportunities for society and national rather than an EU PP market (with over 98% of the contracts won by national bidders, notwithstanding that the PP procedures are organised and contracts are awarded according to EU r
Specific questions to be answered within the thematic group of Public Procurement and Innovation include:
- Have procuring procedures evolved over the past five years? How do they fit in the national / EU legislative framework? Could these be considered innovative in themselves? How is procurement being managed (i.e. through what internal structure, according to what laws and executive orders, etc.)?
- Are you aware of the EU directives on public procurement and the proposed new directive on public procurement – end of 2011?
- What are the kinds of services/supplies/public goods that are procured? Of those, which involve providing a public service (that is, a service of benefit to citizens) from the outside (private) entity?
- Are there services, which are only partly procured to external vendors, but continue to be offered by the municipal authority or a related public enterprise? If yes, how is that sustainable?
- What is the current share of budget that is paid to private vendors as a result of approved tenders? How has that share changed over the past five years?
- Which procurement notices over the past five years apply to services or products that the procuring authority considers innovative? Which (and how many in general) resulted in the adoption of an innovation?
- What are examples of public-private partnerships formed on the basis of (or initiated through) public procurement? What time period do such partnerships typically cover?
Expected outcomes of the thematic group discussions are conclusions on innovative practices in the local Public Procurement procedures, the barriers, and a list of Public Procurement practices.
The thematic group of Public Procurement and Innovation is led by the Lazio Region (Italy). In February 2013 the Thematic Group meeting on Public Procurement and Innovation took place in Warsaw (Poland). During this meeting all CCIC partners had the chance to present their good practices on Public Procurement and Innovation to the rest of the partners. For more information on this study visit, please read the article in this newsletter called “Public Procurement and Innovation – TG Meeting in Warsaw, Poland”.