A “party” of billions of euros with direct assignments reveals a report of the Court of Auditors, which is a bottleneck for the government, local government and the administrations of state bodies and public organizations.
According to the data from the Unified Authority for Public Contracts, in only 16 months in the period 2021-2022, 314,006 contracts were awarded for a total amount of 4.5 billion euros by direct award, or by negotiation without a tender notice having been published.
The audit revealed that most direct assignments were made by OTAs, ministries and public hospitals.. The Audit Court audited 64 public bodies and a sample of 5,073 contracts, starting with those signed in the period 1.1.2021 to 30.4.2022, either with the form of direct assignment or after short negotiations.
The 7-point conclusion of the Court of Auditors states:
- There are no guarantees of transparency regarding the selection of the contractor and the determination of the price, especially when repeated assignments are made to the same contractor.
- There are no predetermined and verifiable selection criteria for those invited to submit a bid. The price is not negotiable.
- Low to zero discount rates are offered. Electronic market systems are not widely implemented.
- Public bodies do not plan timely and rationally to cover their needs.
- They adapt their needs to the limit of direct assignments, covering them piecemeal and making divisions.
- The unforeseeable and urgent nature of the needs invoked in order to make a direct award or resort to the negotiation process is not sufficiently justified. Procuring agencies equate “unforeseen” with “urgent”.
- In many cases, the subject of the contract is not clearly defined, nor is the method of calculation of the estimated expenditure revealed. No evidence of previous market research.
- Public bodies do not have a system for evaluating complaints and using them to improve the integrity of the direct procurement process.
The highest percentage of direct assignments was seen in hospitals. A small percentage of their contracts are awarded through competitive processes due to chronic systemic weaknesses combined with the urgent need to supply medicines and other consumables.