E-procurements system seen cutting costs, corruption

By Dimitra Manifava

Almost 12 years since it was announced for the first time, six-and-a-half years after the proclamation of a tender and two years after the signing of the contract with the contractor consortium, the National System of Electronic Public Contracts (ESIDIS) has finally started operating in a pilot program.

When it starts operating normally, the system is expected to reduce the cost of state procurements by up to 20 percent, as well as help to prevent corruption and promote healthy competition.

A supplementary step, but no less important, is the government’s decision to drastically reduce the number of agencies that conduct tenders for public procurements. Consequently, of the 6,930 agencies now operating, no more than 621 will soon be able to conduct public procurement tenders. The ministerial decisions to this end are ready and will be enacted once Parliament votes on the bill regarding the setup and operation of ESIDIS, likely next week.

In the context of the system’s presentation on Tuesday, Deputy Development Minister Athanasios Skordas said that in the drafting of this year’s Single Procurements Program not a single request for inclusion was accepted after the January 31 deadline. This is good news as it means the Development Ministry will be able to work out earlier the size of the program – which is crucial given the tight budget for public procurements – and discourage state and other bodies from submitting requests supposedly of an emergency character that are often meant to circumvent the tender process to proceed to direct concessions.

The precise size of the procurements program for 2013 is expected to be known in the next 20 days, once the processing of all requests is completed.

The system also allows for electronic auctions, with participants knowing only their serial number based on the offer they have submitted, and not the rival bidders and their offers. For instance, an electronic tender was recently conducted for the procurement of 700 printers for tax offices; while the cost had been budgeted at 330,000 euros, conducted through the electronic tender it fell to just 226,000 euros.