A variety of initiatives have been launched in recent years to improve digital procurement in the EU. These projects provide useful information for initiatives undertaken at national, regional or local level, as well as projects between several EU countries.
Connecting Europe Facility
The digital economy can expand markets and foster more and better services, offer greater choice and create jobs. Bringing down the barriers holding back the EU digital single market could contribute an additional €415 billion to EU GDP. The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) supports trans-European networks and infrastructure in transport, telecommunications and energy.
The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) has a portion of its budget (€970 million) dedicated to Digital Service Infrastructures (DSIs) for delivering networked cross-border services for citizens, businesses and public administrations. This includes allocations for eProcurement and eInvoicing. Over the period 2012-2020, more than €34 million is being used to support projects implementing eInvoicing solutions and around €15 million is for financing projects related to eProcurement.
The Once Only Principle project (TOOP)
The Once Only Principle project (TOOP) was launched by the European Commission in January 2017. It involves 51 organisations from 21 EU countries and associated countries. The main objective of TOOP is to explore and demonstrate the once-only principle across borders, focusing on data from businesses. TOOP aims to enable the better exchange of business-related data or documents with and between public administrations and reduce the administrative burden for businesses and public administrations.
The solutions developed by TOOP will reduce the administrative burden, time, and cost faced by businesses when it comes to fulfilling their legal obligations. At the same time, the data provided to public administrations will always remain under the full control and consent of the businesses involved, in line with EU data protection legislation.
Administrations will save time and costs through administrative efficiency and will be able to offer improved service quality to businesses. They will profit from a better-functioning digital single market that increases customer satisfaction and helps improve the image of public authorities.
EU eProcurement Ontology (ePO)
EU eProcurement Ontology is a project run by the Publications Office of the EU. Its goal is to provide a shared understanding of all procurement data. Procurement data has been identified as data with a high potential for reuse. Given the increasing importance of data standards for eProcurement, several initiatives have been launched by the public sector, industry and academia in recent years. Some have grown organically, while others are the result of standardisation work. The vocabularies and the semantics they are introducing, the phases of public procurement they cover, and the technologies they use differ. These differences hamper data interoperability and reuse, both by the initiatives themselves and by the public. This has created the need for a common data standard for publishing procurement data, which allows data from different sources to be easily accessed, linked, and reused.
The Digital Whistleblower project (DIGIWHIST) combines the provision of data on public procurement spending with actionable governance indicators and a monitoring procedure facilitating citizen feedback. The goal is to strengthen the accountability and transparency of public administrations. This Horizon 2020 project systematically collects, analyses, and broadly disseminates tender-level information on public procurement in 35 jurisdictions across Europe. To systematically investigate how public resources are allocated in Europe, this data is linked to company and public organisation information on finances and ownership, as well as to information on mechanisms that increase the accountability of public officials. The OpenTender subpage visualises procurement practices around the EU.
They Buy For You
They Buy For You, a project funded by Horizon 2020, aims to use data on government procurement, enriched and integrated with other open sources, and analysed using cutting-edge data science methods, to provide information on the opportunities and challenges faced by stakeholders when it comes to making decisions. By delivering an open-source platform and an application programming interface which can implement a wide range of procurement business cases, the project aims to help procurement service providers and IT companies innovate. They should be able to build on They Buy For You technology to deliver custom commercial products and services.
Electronic Simple European Networked Services: e-SENS
e-SENS (Electronic Simple European Networked Services) is a large-scale project for developing the European Digital Market through innovative ICT solutions. Within its e-tendering pilot, it will enable cross-border electronic procurement procedures in the EU.
Internal Market Information System for Public Administrations
On 20 April 2015, the European Commission launched a pilot project to use the Internal Market Information (IMI) system to help public authorities from one EU country verify the information and documentation provided by procurement companies established in another EU country. Once registered in the system and depending on the national organisation of the use of IMI, national public authorities can:
- remove doubts surrounding the authenticity of a document or certificate provided by a tenderer;
- check that a company has the required technical specifications (fulfills national standards, labels, conformity assessments, etc.) or is suitable for carrying out the contract in question;
- verify that a company does not fall under any grounds for exclusion such as having been convicted for fraud;
- confirm the information from a previously submitted European standardised self-declaration of a tender.
Open source e-procurement platform: e-PRIOR
Open e-PRIOR is an open-source e-procurement platform that allows practical implementation of interoperable electronic services within any public administration. It plays the role of intermediary between the back-office applications of the public administration and the Pan-European Public Procurement OnLine (PEPPOL) interoperability initiative. Currently, e-PRIOR covers both pre-award and post-award. For example, public administrations and private entities from two different countries can exchange e-invoices using the e-PRIOR infrastructure.