Highlights of public procurement related amendments

On 18th of October 2018, in extraordinary State Gazette (issue no.86), there were promulgated recent amendments to the Public Procurement Act.

Some of the essential amendments are following:

1. Electronic award of public contracts via centralized electronic platform

Most of the amendments aim at transition to the process of entirely electronic award of the public contracts. Therefore, it was set up a public centralized electronic platform. The objective is that the platform covers the overall process of awarding public contracts. The computerasation also involves the new obligation of the contracting authorities to accept and handle e-invoices concerning fulfillment of the contracts.

The preparation and the publication of the relevant tender documentation and information on fulfillment of the public contract will be realized via the centralized electronic platform.

The amendments envisage that the startup operation of the centralized electronic platform will take place gradually, where the platform will be partially operationable as from 01.11.2019. Having regard thereto, the award of public contracts, the signing of frame agreements and the execution of tenders for projects, for which it was taken decision to be started a procedure or it was published an announcement for collection of offers or invitation to certain persons will be finalized according to the order effective as of the date of their starting.

The platform shall be mandatorily used by all contracting authorities. Exclusion will be applicable solely to the central purchasing bodies that may use their own platforms that however have to be linked with the centralized electronic platform. The requirement that all profiles of the contracting authorities – state and municipal administrations – have to be uploaded to the centralized electronic platform will be effective not earlier than 01.01.2021.

 

2. Creating purchaser profile in the centralized electronic platform

The authorities awarding public contracts shall maintain purchaser profile within the centralized electronic platform. It will be thus achived higher degree of transparency and publicity of information pertaining to market consultations. To the profile will be uploaded the entire documentation concerning the public procurement procedure, including information on eventual proceedings of appeal.

By the publication of the documents in the purchaser profile shall be deemed that the interested persons, the applicants and/or the participants are informed on the circumstances posted on it, unless otherwise provided for by law. Therefore, the electronic documents in the file of a particular public contract will be publicly accessible within 5 years as of the year, in which the execution of the contract was finalized or the award was terminated.

 

3. Increase of the threshold value, above which public contracts will be awarded

In accordance with the amendments to the European legislation with effect as of 01.03.2019 it has been envisaged an increase of the threshold values, above which public contracts will be awarded – by average 5 % for supplies and standard services. More significant increase has been envisaged solely of the threshold values in the field of the construction, social activities and other specific services.

 

4. Introduction of option to serve summons and notices to the parties by electronic way

According to the amendments the parties may be served summons and notices to e-mail or fax specified by them. Only if the parties have not specified e-mail or fax, then the summoning and the serving notices in the case will take place according to Civil Code of Procedure.

 

5. More effective co-operation between the Public Procurement Agency and the supervising bodies in the public procurement field

Firstly, the amendments are supposed to optimize and precise the type and the scope of ex ante control on the public contracts that is exercised by Public Procurement Agency.

Moreover, the Methods Council is renamed to Expert Council for Co-operation, where its main objective has been changed. It has to accept  expertises having the nature of guidelines regarding the application of provisions of the act. Intended is the equal understanding and application of the legislation in the public procurement field.

 

6. Shortened time-limits for submitting offers

The minimum time-limits for obtaining offers by the contracting authorities have been shortened, and these amendments take effect as of 18.10.2018. The amendments have been introduced to achieve acceleration in the implementation of the public procurement procedures.

For instance, it has been shortened the minimum time-limit for obtaining offers by the public contracting entities:

  • If a procedure is announced, the minimum time-limit for obtaining offers is 30 days as of the date of forwarding the notification of public procurement procedure for publication;
  • Upon restricted procedure – 25 days as of the date of forwarding the invitation for submitting offers;
  • Competitive procedure with negotiation – the minimum time-limit for obtaining the initial offers is 25 days as of the date of forwarding the invitation by the contracting entity to the candidates invited by it after a pre-selection.

 

7. Amendments to the legal provisions concerning administrative infringements

Introduction of new sanctions on infringements that have not been covered by the law so far as well as sanctions for repeated infringements.

For instance, a contracting entity that terminates a procedure without the legal grounds for termination being available or does not terminate a procedure upon the existence of these grounds will be imposed a fine of BGN 1000,00 up to BGN 5000,00.

You can find the full version of the amendments here.

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