In the past, procurement procedures were largely handled in writing.
A written invitation was sent out or a written registration form drawn up. Candidates were required to sign up by submitting a number of written documents and the procedure ultimately resulted in a written award decision.
Compared to the rest of Europe, the Netherlands are late to adopt this new method, although in practice online procurement has been the standard in our country for a number of years now. Several requirements pertaining to online procurement procedures are already in place. Contracting authorities are required to publish their procurements electronically. These procurement procedures are handled via the Tenderned portal.
From 1 July 2017, all contracting authorities, including e.g. educational institutions and healthcare institutions, are required to fully digitise their procurement procedures: all communication, not just the announcement itself, must be handled electronically. It will no longer be necessary to submit hard copies of the requisite documentation. This will lead to increased efficiency, it is expected to reduce the duration of procurement procedures and it will become easier to use certain templates and models. An added advantage is that this new method will also make procurement procedures more transparent, which is expected to reduce costs for all parties involved. All in all, this is an excellent development.
New technologies will undoubtedly create new problems. Think of malfunctions, for example. Like any other website, Tenderned is not immune to unexpected downtime. That is an unavoidable fact. The question remains how this affects the procurement process.
Contracting authorities must prepare for the mandatory digital procurement process, but the same goes for entrepreneurs: for those who occasionally sign up for a procurement procedure and have little or no experience with the digital process yet, it is important to start looking into the matter soon, considering that the mandatory digitisation will enter into force later this year. If these entrepreneurs have not already done so, they should at least create a user account on Tenderned. This account is needed in order to sign up for procurement procedures, especially if a party is not directly invited to do so.
If you have any questions about procurement procedures or if you would like more information about digital procurement, feel free to contact Pascal Willems.