Huddinge Municipality was guilty of an illegal direct award when it failed to apply procurement rules to a contract for snow clearance. This is the conclusion of the Swedish Competition Authority, which is now seeking to impose a procurement fine of SEK 2 million on the municipality.
In February 2019, Huddinge Municipality chose not to extend a previously awarded contract for snow clearance and instead began a new procurement process for winter road maintenance. In September of that year, the municipality decided to cancel the procurement having identified flaws in the tender documentation.
In order to avoid the risk of being without a supplier of snow clearance services prior to the winter season 2019-2020, the municipality decided to directly award a contract for winter road maintenance on the grounds that snow clearance is a vital societal function. This direct award, which was not preceded by the publication of an announcement, was made on the grounds of extreme urgency. The total value of the contract was SEK 26,730,000.
In the opinion of the Swedish Competition Authority, the municipality is guilty of an illegal direct award as the circumstances did not justify an exception from the obligation to announce on the grounds of extreme urgency.
“The exception for extreme urgency is only applicable under very specific circumstances. It is important that a procuring public authority does not as a result of its own actions place itself in a situation in which there is no scope for implementing a well-planned procurement,” says Rikard Jermsten, Director General of the Swedish Competition Authority.
The Swedish Competition Authority is now petitioning the Administrative Court in Stockholm to impose a procurement fine of SEK 2 million.
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