Publication of public contracts

Public procurement notice is the process by which a contracting authority (such as the federal or Flemish government) makes public its intention to award a contract. This is usually done through an announcement in the official gazettes, such as the Bulletin of Procurement (BDA, now e-Procurement) and the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU or TED). The purpose of the notice is to organize sufficient competition and give interested companies the opportunity to bid for the contract.

Why is public procurement disclosure important?

Public procurement disclosure is important for several reasons:

  • It promotes the transparency and integrity of public procurement by requiring the client to objectively and clearly define the contract and disclose the selection and award criteria.
  • It encourages competition and innovation by opening the contract to the widest possible range of potential bidders, both inside and outside Belgium.
  • It contributes to the efficiency and effectiveness of public procurement by allowing the client to obtain the best value for money and consulting the market on the feasibility and opportunity of the contract.

How does public procurement advertising work?

Publication of public contracts works according to a number of rules and principles, which depend on the nature, value and procedure of the contract. The main aspects of publication are explained below.

Estimate of the value of the contract

The estimation of the contract value is a crucial step in the publication process because it determines whether or not the contract should be published on a European level. If the estimated value of the contract reaches certain thresholds, which are set every two years by the European Commission, the contract must be published in both the BDA and the OJEU. If the estimated value of the contract is below the European thresholds, publication in the BDA is sufficient.

The estimate of the value of the contract must take into account all elements that may increase the expenditure, such as VAT, options, extensions, variable costs, maintenance costs, etc. The estimate should be based on the total value of the contract, and not on the value of individual lots or batches. The estimate should also take into account the duration of the contract, which in principle should not exceed four years.

Types of announcements

Depending on the stage and purpose of the announcement, different types of notices may be used:

  • The prior information notice is a concise, grouped announcement of all public contracts that the contracting authority intends to award under a particular budget or fiscal year. The pre-information notice is not mandatory, but can be used to inform and raise awareness of the market about future contracts. The pre-information notice can also serve as a means of shortening the deadlines for receiving bids, provided certain conditions are met.
  • The contract notice is the main notice, which is the actual publication of the contract. The contract notice contains the essential information about the contract such as its nature, scope, location, duration, conditions, criteria, procedure, deadlines, etc. The contract notice must include the information contained in the standard electronic forms prepared by the European Commission and the Federal Public Service Policy and Support.
  • The notice of awarded contract is the notice that the contracting authority publishes after awarding the contract. The notice of awarded contract contains the information about the outcome of the contract, such as the name and address of the successful tenderer, the value or price of the contract, the reasons for the award decision, etc. The contract award notice must be published within 30 days of the conclusion of the contract, both for contracts published at the European level and those published only in Belgium.
  • Voluntary prior transparency notice is a notice that the contracting authority may publish to indicate its intention to award a contract without prior publication, in exceptional cases where this is permitted by law. The purpose of the announcement of a voluntary transparency oraf is to increase legal certainty and reduce the risk of the contract being declared void. The announcement of a voluntary pre-publication transparency must state the reasons for awarding the contract without prior publication and must respect a deadline of at least 10 days before closing the contract.

Disclosure levels and deadlines.

The level and timing of disclosure depend on the value and procedure of the contract. There are two possible levels of disclosure:

  • The European level, which requires publication in the OJEU, in addition to publication in the BDA. This level is mandatory for contracts that reach or exceed the European thresholds. These contracts must comply with the European public procurement regulations, which, among other things, set the minimum time limits for receiving bids. These deadlines vary depending on the procedure chosen, but can be shortened in certain cases, for example by using a pre-information notice, by using electronic means, or by demonstrating an urgent need.
  • The Belgian level, which only requires publication in the BDA. This level applies to contracts lower than the European thresholds but higher than the Belgian thresholds. These contracts must comply with Belgian public procurement regulations, which also set the minimum time limits for receipt of bids. These deadlines are generally shorter than the European deadlines, but can also be adjusted depending on the circumstances of the contract.

For contracts lower than the Belgian thresholds, there is no obligation to advertise, but it is recommended that some form of publicity be given to the contract, for example through the contracting authority's website, in order to promote competition and ensure transparency.

Electronic means of communication

The use of electronic means of communication is in principle mandatory for all public contracts advertised at the European or Belgian level, unless there is an exception or a transitional period. The obligation applies to all stages of the procedure, from publication to award.

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