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Open Procurement

EU procurement legislation is grounded in the EU Treaty and is designed to ensure open markets are maintained and that the Single Market can operate competitively and openly. The rules are designed to secure non-discrimination in government purchasing in a way that compliments the EU competition rules. The EU’s Procurement laws also ensure open competitive tendering by governmental bodies. It is obviously critical that these principles are observed so that when “government as customer” impacts the market, it does so in a way that operates in a manner that is technologically neutral and supports competitive supply and economic efficiency throughout the supply chain. 

For a list of all Open Procurement articles, click here.

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OFT launches market study into the supply of public sector ICT services

Following the OFT call for information (CFI) during August 2013, The OFT has launched a 'Market Study' to further investigate the market. The OFT considers that a number of issues were raised from that CFI that the OFT believes deserve further analysis. Most notably, the OFT has said that it is sensitive to concerns being raised that certain businesses appear to have a large share of contracts in some areas of the sector, that there are high barriers to entry and expansion (especially for smaller scale ICT businesses) and that public sector organisations face difficulties and high costs in switching suppliers.

"During the CFI, issues were also raised regarding public sector procurement practices. The market study will examine the extent to which these practices interact with the market structure and suppliers' behaviour.  Existing reports and ongoing initiatives to improve public sector procurement will inform the study. The OFT aims to avoid duplicating other recent or ongoing work concerning public sector procurement.

"In particular the OFT will examine two parts of the ICT sector:

  • Commercial off-the-shelf software: all types of software commercially available to different organisations,  which have not been individually tailored to those organisations' needs. Examples which we may look at include  management information and revenues and benefits systems that may be used by a range of public sector organisations, such as schools and local authorities.
  • Outsourced IT: the contracting of private sector suppliers to build and/or manage public sector IT infrastructure and applications (software designed for non-technical users). Examples which we may look at include the building, running and maintenance of IT systems and applications for public sector organisations."

The study will focus on the degree of competition between the companies which supply these goods and services, in a sector that is vital for the efficient and cost effective delivery of all public services. It also accounts for a significant proportion of total public sector expenditure, with an estimated £13.8 billion spent in 2011-12.

It is understood that many organisations have received specific and detailed requests for information.

Click here to read the OFT press release.


OFT calls for information on the supply of information and communications technology to the public sector

On 3 July 2013, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) issued a call for information on the supply of information and communications technology (ICT) goods and services to the public sector. The OFT is keen to ensure that competition in this sector works well. It is seeking information on the structure and operation of the public sector ICT markets in order to understand the ICT products and services involved, who supplies them, the structure and operation of these markets (including, in particular, barriers to entry and to switching) and the degree of competition between suppliers. The OFT invites information and evidence to be submitted by 18 August 2013. It intends to announce its findings and any proposed further action in October 2013.

Click here to read the OFT press release.


A quarter of government ICT procurement to involve SMEs by 2015

The government's Open Standards Principles is one of a number of factors - including G-Cloud, that'll help it achieve a target of reaching a quarter of all ICT procurement contracts being provided to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has said.

Click here to read the article.


Open Data Comes to Market

This report by Kieron O’Hara sumarises the discussion at the seminar 'Open Data Comes to Market: the Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Apps', which brought together developers, small businesses, government and other public sector officials to try to develop an understanding of what the ideal open data market would look like in the crime and criminal justice sector, in terms of the balances between public and private, small developers and large systems, and different ways of presenting data as accessible information.

Click here to read the report


Cloud Computing and Data protection reform

Blog post by Vice-President of the European Commission, Neelie Kroes

...After 12 months of intensive discussions and consultations, I am currently preparing the first in a series of concrete announcements related to the European Cloud Computing Strategy. I want Europe to be not only cloud-friendly but cloud-active: the right common rules could enhance cloud development, but the wrong choices on data protection would cut off lots of potential uses and business offerings before they’ve even started. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, I will announce a concrete project aimed at making it easier for buyers – particularly public sector buyers – to cooperate on requirement definitions and possibly pool their resources when procuring Cloud Computing services.

Click here to read Neelie Kroes' complete blog entry.