Conducting business with public sector stakeholders
Each year, more than 18,000 public procurements are advertised, at a value of over 800 billion krona. Many of the public sector contracts have long durations and public organisations are reliable customers. Here, you will find information to help you with the procurement process and what you should keep in mind if you want to be a public sector supplier.
Prepare your company
Working and conducting business with the public sector may entail major opportunities for your business. In order to improve your chances of winning public sector contracts you must act in good time and enter into dialogue with organisations within the public sector. It is also important to know how to find relevant procurements and to have some knowledge of the regulatory framework.
A good first step is to examine the need in the public sector for your products and services, and how these are purchased. By having a continuous dialogue with procuring organisations (contracting authorities and entities), you will have an opportunity to present your offer and proposed solutions. But keep in mind that procuring organisations are prohibited from favouring one supplier over another, and that it is important to respect this fact.
You can find procurement advertisements in several places:
- As a rule, high-value procurements are advertised on the joint EU advertising database, the Tenders Electronic Daily – “TED”.
- In Sweden, there are a number of private advertising databases that are registered with the Swedish Competition Authority where procurements can be advertised.
- There are also several monitoring services gathering information from the various registered advertising databases.
- Systems of choice are advertised on Hitta LOV-uppdrag (SV)
- Sometimes it is possible to find advertisements in other places regarding direct awards, such as on the websites of procuring organisations or advertisements in the local press.
In direct awards, there is no requirement to advertise the procurement. The procuring organisation can then turn directly to one or several companies. In these instances, it is important that they are already aware of you.
Procuring organisations must advertise all their procurements, with the exception of direct awards, in advertising databases that have been registered with the Swedish Competition Authority.
When you have found an interesting procurement, the first step is to request the tender documents from an advertising database that has been registered. The tender documents contain all the information that you require as a tenderer in order to submit a tender.
The earlier you review the documents, the more proactive you can be in asking questions and drafting the documents to be submitted in connection with the tender submission if you decide to participate in the procurement process.
Depending on how the requirements are drawn up and worded, you have the right, as a supplier, to use subcontractors. The subcontractors to be listed in the tender is basically determined by what has been requested in the tender documents. If several companies join forces, it is important to make clear how each company meets the different requirements in the tender documents.
Primarily, there are three alternatives for a supplier who wishes to partner with other suppliers. These alternatives involve
- calling on the capacity of other companies
- using subcontractors
- submitting a joint tender together with other suppliers.
Feel free to ask questions of the procuring organisation if anything is unclear or seems incorrect in the tender documents. By asking questions, you reduce the risk of making a mistake, as well as the risk of spending time on a tender that risks being incomplete because of errors.
As a tenderer in a procurement process, you have the right to ask questions and receive answers from the procuring organisation. You also have the right to read the answers to questions posed by other tenderers. The procuring organisation shall make the answers available at the same time to everyone participating in the procurement process, for example by publishing them in the procurement tool.
Participating in the procurement
The procurement process may be very different depending on a number of factors, such as the value of the contract, the routines and circumstances of the procuring organisation, as well as the procurement procedure used. For that reason, we recommend that you pay careful attention to what is required for the contract in question when you submit your tender.
When you have decided to participate in the procurement process, it is time to start drawing up your tender. You need to ensure that the tender fulfils all the requirements and conditions listed by the procuring organisation. In order for the procuring organisation to be able to examine the tender, it is essential that it be submitted in time.
At this stage of the procurement process, your and other stakeholder’s tenders are completely confidential.
When the deadline for submitting tenders has passed, the tenders are opened and later examined. The procuring organisation will check that different kinds of requirements have been fulfilled and assess which tender is the best one according to the established award criteria.
The procuring organisation makes a decision about the company or companies with which the organisation will sign a contract or enter into a framework agreement. Subsequently, all tenderers shall receive notice about the award. Even if the organisation decides to cancel a procurement, the tenderer shall still receive notice about the award.
The award notice shall outline:
- who or which suppliers were awarded the contract or framework agreement
- the reasons for awarding it
- the period of time during which no agreements may be entered into (standstill period).
When the award notice has been dispatched, the confidentiality of the procurement process is lifted, which means that, in most cases, the tenders become public.
When the procurement process is concluded
What happens at the conclusion of the procurement process is mainly determined by other legislation, such as the Contracts Act and the Sale of Goods Act. But rules governing amendments to agreements and appeals are still regulated by the procurement legislation. Irrespective of whether you were awarded the contract or not, there are a number of things that may be good to know.
If you have been awarded a contract and received an award notice from the procuring organisation, you should be aware that there is a minimum ten-day standstill period. Before then, no agreement may be entered into. When the standstill period has expired, the agreement may be signed. You need to be active and communicate with the procuring organisation in order to implement the agreement into your operations in the best possible way, and to maintain good collaboration throughout the entire contract period.
Thus, during the contract period the procuring organisation must comply with rules regarding how and when they are permitted to amend contracts and framework agreements. Other issues that concern the relationship between you as the supplier and the procuring organisation fall entirely outside the scope of the procurement legislation.
If you were not awarded the contract, there are two reasons that you should investigate why that was the case: both in order to gain experience for future procurement processes and to ensure that the procuring organisation is not in breach of the procurement legislation.
Tenders are normally public documents, so you can request to be given access to them by the procuring organisation by phoning or emailing them.
There are several possible courses of action if you think that the procuring organisation has acted incorrectly in connection with a procurement. Primarily, you should contact the procuring organisation and give them an opportunity to remedy the error.
You can also apply for a review of the procurement process or the validity of the contract. You can do so at the administrative court in the court district where the procuring organisation is located.
If you believe that you have suffered damage due to the procuring organisation being in breach of the procurement legislation, you can institute proceedings for damages at the district court.
If you suspect any type of procurement problems, you can also report this to the Competition Authority. They are able to apply for a procurement fine to be paid in the event of prohibited direct awards.