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Public Procurement - Frequently Asked Questions

1 - Does your department handle calls for tenders for the entire Commission ?

Our department launches calls for tenders concerning the common supplies and services to be used by the entire Commission. Some Directorates-General may launch their own calls for tenders for specific needs. These calls for tenders are also published in the Official Journal. They are managed by the publishing Directorates-General themselves.



2 - Does your department handle calls for tenders for other European Institutions ?

Yes. DIGIT has concluded administrative arrangements with almost all existing EU Institutions, Agencies and Other Bodies (EUIs).  You can find a full list of them here.

Under those administrative arrangements, DIGIT provides to the EUIs services in the field of ICT procurement and has, in particular, undertaken to open the procurement procedures issued by it to the participation of all the EUIs, as a general rule and insofar as the supplies and/or services to be acquired under the resulting Framework Contracts are of a general nature.

In the context of any such inter-institutional procurement procedure, DIGIT will be acting not only on behalf of the European Commission, but also on behalf of those EUIs which have decided to join and are explicitly mentioned as awarding authorities in the contract notice. In such cases, the tendering documents will usually provide detailed information on foreseen volume estimates per EUI.

DIGIT will also manage the Framework Contract resulting from those inter-institutional procurement procedures; the ordering process by way of Specific Contracts will, however, remain under the responsibility of each EUI.

Not all procurement procedures issued by DIGIT are, however, inter-institutional, as some of them are aimed at addressing needs which are specific to the Commission. For the same reason, the EUIs may also issue their own procurement procedures in the ICT field independently of DIGIT. Lastly, when justified by reasons of economic efficiency and fairness, some inter-institutional procurement procedures may be limited to certain EUIs (and/or allow for the possibility of differentiation in prices or service levels) based on category, size, location or other relevant factors.



4 - What rules does the Commission follow in its public procurement ?

The European Commission is bound by the same Directives on Public Procurement that apply in the Member States. As a general rule, any contracts for services or supplies above a certain estimated value (currently €60 000) have to be awarded through calls for tenders.

In the computer and telecommunications sectors, purchases are generally made through open calls for tenders under the Service or the Supply Procurement Directives. This ensures the widest possible competition among suppliers from all around the world.

Direct negotiations with possible suppliers are restricted to very specific circumstances, and usually to amounts below the threshold mentioned. Contacting the Commission directly in order to propose goods or services is therefore not a useful course to follow.



5 - What is the average time from the publication of the contract notice to the award of the contract ?

This process normally takes from 3 to 5 months.

This period is not entirely dependent on the Commission department publishing the notice. Some of the delays are prescribed by the Public Procurement Directives (minimum time between sending of Tendering Specifications and reception of offers - in order to give tenderers sufficient time to respond, etc).



6 - Where can I get standard tendering specifications ?

You will find examples of tendering specifications for the calls for tenders done previously by our department on this site. They cover different and specific markets.



7 - What is the difference between the "notice of prior information " and the "contract notice" ?

The notice of prior information only expresses the Commission intention to launch an open call for tenders for such and such supply and/or services.

The delay between the prior notice and the contract notice varies in each case. If the prior information is not followed by the contract notice within one year, a new notice of prior information will be published.

The contract notice is considered as the starting point of the call for tenders procedure. It gives more details on the market and practical information concerning the deposit of tenders (i.e. final date for receipt of the offer, opening of the offer…).



8 - I'm interested in a call for tenders which is currently open. How do I find more information about this tender ?

If you only heard of it, you should first go to any source of information about this call for tenders and make sure that the deadline for the submission of tenders has not yet expired. The deadline date is always indicated in the contract notice published in the Official Journal of the European Communities.

Should the tender still be open, ask the Contracts Information Centre for the tendering specifications as soon as possible. You will receive these very quickly from the responsible department. The covering letter will explain who is in charge from the administrative point of view, who is the single contact point for questions, etc.

During the tendering and evaluation period, contacts with the Commission must be in writing and exclusively with the contact point designated in the tendering documents.



9 - How much time do we have to deposit our tender after the publication of the contract notice ?

The exact final date for receipt of tender is of course stated in the contract notice.

In the case of particularly difficult contracts, the contract notice may specify a longer period than normal.



10 - How is the tender evaluated ?

The assessment of tenderers and offers will take place in 4 main stages. The procedure will be as follows :

  • Exclusion of tenderers
  • Selection of tenderers
  • Evaluation of offers
  • Award of the contract

The assessment will be based on the tenderer's answers to the Questionnaires. In addition, the Commission reserves the right to use any other information from public or specialist sources. All the information will be assessed against the criteria specified in the appropriate section of the tendering specifications.

Only offers meeting the requirements of a particular stage will pass on to the next stage of the assessment.



11 - What about the opening of the offers ?

All tenders (under open procedure only) will be opened in public at the date, time and place specified in the contract notice and/or the covering letter. If you or your company submitted an offer, the tenderer or one person representing it can attend the opening, together with the other tenderers who so wish. It is not obligatory to attend the opening of the offers.



12 - I submitted an offer for a call for tenders. Can I get information on the evaluation? When will the final choice be communicated?

During the evaluation period, no information on the evaluation can be provided. It is useless to call, fax or E-mail the administrative department or the contact point given for the submission period.

Only after the whole evaluation procedure has been finalized will the tenderers be informed in writing about the outcome, either positive or negative. After signature of the contract, the result of the award of the contract will be published in the Official Journal.



13 - What kind of contracts does your department sign ?

Our department usually signs framework contracts. As the name suggests, this kind of contract sets up the framework of the contractual relation between the Commission and the contractor for the specific contract. It must be stressed that the framework contract itself does not constitute an order. Orders are placed by specific contracts.



14 - What is a specific contract?

A specific contract is an order for a specific delivery, or series of deliveries. It is the implementation stage of a framework contract and generally indicates the details of this stage (quantities, places and time of delivery, etc).



15 - Is a model framework contract available for consultation?

Yes, a model of our Framework contractpdf(124 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  - Version 1.4 (Special Conditions and General Conditions) can be consulted and downloaded.