The Act applies when a contracting authority opens parts of its activities for competition, by establishing a system of choice for the services covered by the system.
In establishing a system of choice the contracting authority transfers the possibility to choose a service provider within the system to the users of the services. The users may, in many cases, choose between private suppliers with whom the contracting authority has concluded a contract in the system of choice, or service providers within the contracting authority´s own organisation. The level of payment given to the suppliers is set by the contracting authority and stated in the contract documents, and is depending on the amount of users choosing the supplier as their service provider.
According to the Act, contracting authorities are county councils, with regards to primary care, and municipalities who have decided to establish systems of choice in health care and social services. From 1 July 2010, also the Swedish Public Employment Service may apply the Act when procuring services within its labour-market activities, and by 1 May 2010, establishment of systems of choice is mandatory for some of its activities focusing on recently arrived immigrants.
System of Choice in brief
The principles for systems of choice -non-discrimination, equal treatment, proportionality, transparency and mutual recognition -must be considered during the whole procedure. Accordingly, service providers within the contracting authority´s own organisation and the private suppliers in the system of choice must be treated equally. Also the requirements set by the contracting authority, which the suppliers must satisfy, must be relevant.
A contracting authority that has decided to establish or change a system of choice shall publish the relevant contract documents on the national website set up for the purpose (www.valfrihetswebben.se) and continuously request applications. All applicants satisfying the requirements referred to in the contract notice and contract documents, and which have not been excluded pursuant to Chapter 7, Section 1 of the Act, shall be approved and may conclude a contract with the contracting authority.
The contracting authority shall provide information about all suppliers within the system of choice to the users of the services. For the user who does not choose a supplier, the contracting authority shall provide a no-choice alternative.
If the contracting authority has breached a provision of the Act and this has meant that a supplier suffered or may suffer damage, the general administrative court shall decide, after application by the supplier, that the contracting authority shall implement rectification.
Supervising systems of choice
The Swedish Competition Authority has been given the task to supervise the establishment of systems of choice. In order to prevent infringements, the Authority also gives general guidance and information concerning the Act on System of Choice in the Public Sector.