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No 3 (April 96/Avril 96/April 96)
Community policy on public procurement aims to help public authorities and utilities deliver to Europe's citizens higher quality services at lower cost by bringing the benefits of the Single Market to public procurement. Directives lay down a framework for public procurement procedures based on the principles of non-discrimination, competition and transparency of award procedures. Common rules for advertising procurement needs, invitations to tender and contract awards in a supplement to the Official Journal and in the Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) database are a key part of the policy. Over 120,000 procurement notices were published during 1995.
The SIMAP project, which will cover the whole procurement life cycle from the notification procedure and dissemination, to monitoring and electronic tendering, was set up to improve the information systems supporting public procurement. It will provide a more efficient infrastructure for the effective collection, distribution and exchange of public procurement information. Since November 1995 some 80 public authorities and utilities have been taking part in a SIMAP pilot project using standard electronic forms to transmit information by electronic mail to the Official Journal. An important element in the SIMAP project is the Common Procurement Vocabulary (CPV) which is designed to help contracting entities describe the subject-matter of contracts precisely and comprehensively. This will improve the quality of the information sent by the entities, allow automatic processing and translation into all the Union's languages and enable suppliers to identify more quickly and easily those contract opportunities of interest to their firm.
In parallel new and improved ways of publishing the information are being investigated. The daily supplement to the Official Journal is now often more than 300 pages long, making it difficult for companies to find the details of those contracts for which they might want to bid. New means of publishing such as CD-ROM and the Internet will be explored. Within SIMAP, electronic tendering or the direct exchange of information between purchasers and suppliers is of prime importance. The project is currently defining the conditions for pan-European implementation.
The Commission is planning to present a Communication to Council and Parliament on the use of information technology in public procurement before the end of 1996.
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