Could you guess which is the biggest and highly unimaginable love of the EU member states authorities, the EU institutions and related agencies all together?
It is the paper.
Being practically involved in EU bidding procedures with all of the above mentioned public organizations, and following the eGovernment actions (including eProcurement in themselves) one still couldn't possibly grasp this all-consuming EU love for physical acceptance of documents. I guess it has something to do with the idea of receiving an unexpected present (thinking along the lines of the Chrismas season), but I can't really believe that could be it!
The architects behind the procurement procedures at the EC for example for sure didn't think much about the practical application of their rules.
Today both EU officials and people working in organizations from all the sectors willing to work together spend an immense amount of time in exchanging administrative documentation when they want to participate in a certain public tender or by applying for a grant funding.
The problem, however, is not only that this is not a one-time event, but that the respective organization have to send every time documents, which being issued from other public authorities in their respective countries, take another few weeks of someone else’s time to be processed.
And their processing is usually checking in a digital database or registry at a certain national authority to be issues back on paper and send back to the organization, which then sends it forth to the EC…
Being faced with this already a multitude of times; there was no way that I didn’t ask myself WHAT IF…
It is very simple to imagine the creation of a SPA, one-stop-shop solution for EU authorities, organizations and national registries. This platform easily can semi-automate the data bases extraction of information through the one-time linking and authentication of national registries of such information. Following that, I phrased it “semi-automate”, because for the rest which is to be signed by the organization (academic body, NGO, SME, etc..) it is easy to imagine a filling of the accounting information, and all the rest which then could be secured with an E-Signature.
This would not only ease the life of many people involved in the process, decrease the processing time and resources spend but also ensure the long-term view of the development of the organizations, applying for tenders and grants. A solution like this could be easily envisioned as a SaaP on the cloud, and available in multiple languages with the expectations of receiving the same types of requested content without the need of re-issuing every time. This time of a procurement repository and information management platform would not only be sustainable, but also widely accessible – especially if placed on the cloud.
One would be able to just tick the documents he wants to use from his organizations' profile, be able to update or make changes on them (if possible depending on the type of E-Document) and to submit them to the specific call. Following, he would be able to trace if the documents have been checked and accepted and if there are any remarks or a further need of clarification.
And instead of every national government developing its own unique platform for its own purposes, it could be much more convenient to have a pan-European platform, where governments or authorities can create the “template” of set of requirements for the documentations they accept (or maybe even issue back in the long-term vision!). Such a pan-European administration underpins the very existence of sustainable administrative practices build on the model of collaboration, transparency and accountability.