The requirements for contracting authorities to draw up guidelines for direct awards and to document direct awards above SEK 100,000 have been effective. Nine in ten public authorities have introduced steering documents (guidelines) for direct procurement. The same proportion also reports that they have procedures in place for the documenting of direct awards.
This has been confirmed in the Swedish Competition Authority’s report ’Direktupphandlingar – en kartläggning av riktlinjer och rutiner’ (‘Direct awards – a survey of guidelines and procedures’).
The threshold that determines when a contracting authority may award contracts directly without advertising was raised in 2014 and is currently SEK 534,890. At the same time, requirements were introduced to ensure that contracting authorities must adopt their own guidelines for the use of direct awards and, at the same time, must document all direct awards above a value of SEK 100,000.
The Swedish Competition Authority has examined the guidelines and procedures for direct contracts of municipalities, county councils and state authorities. The results show that, at present, the majority of these have rules in place.
“Generally speaking, it is the municipalities that – to a greater extent than the public authorities – have introduced procedures both for documentation and for the exposure to competition. It is the small public authorities that are least likely to have their own guidelines”, says the Director-General of the Swedish Competition Authority Dan Sjöblom.
Some shortcomings, however, still remain. For example, far too few of the authorities centralized collection of documentation and not all the information that ought to be mandatory in the documentation is always included. It is also a matter of concern that some of the authorities do not have systems in place which enable them to produce information about completed direct awards.
“One positive conclusion drawn from the survey is that many authorities have a clear ambition to open their purchases to competition, even in the case of direct awards”, says the Director-General of the Swedish Competition Authority Dan Sjöblom.
By opening even those procurements that fall below the threshold for direct awards to competition, a greater number of suppliers will be given the opportunity to submit tenders before any contracts are signed. This increases the possibility of receiving tenders that feature more-efficient solutions, new opportunities, innovation and increased quality. At the same time, it also reduces the risk of objections or corruption.
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