Tendering is the process of enabling prospective suppliers to bid and compete for a specific purchase or service requirement for your company. The tender document outlines the specific requirement and the whole process filters prospective suppliers to determine the most suitable to fulfil the requirement. There are five main ethical and legal principles that must be upheld to ensure fair treatment of all involved parties within the tender process.
1. Equality and Equal Treatment
This ensures that each company must be treated in the same manner and not pre-judged, judged or treated differently due to past experiences. Each application should be given as much consideration as the others in a fair process. It ensures that the receipt of tenders and the treatment of tenders are carried out in a scrupulously fair manner.
Similar, but not the same as equality and equal treatment, non-discriminatory assessment is also a key principle. Each application should not be discriminated against due to such factors as country of origin or nationality. In the current EU Tender process all EU countries are able to apply to compete for a tender if they match the prequalification details.
3. Mutual Recognition
Mutual recognition ensures that the standards, specifications and qualifications for goods and/or services throughout the EU are treated equally and will receive the same recognition. This can be clarified by third party quality or safety standards such as ISO 9000 or CE marking. The mutual recognition of goods guarantees that goods sold in one EU country can be sold in another. This prevents companies from being biased to the country of origin of goods thus preventing fair and equal market access.
All EU member State public procurement policies must comply with the principle of proportionality. Although there is limited information that directly clarifies exactly how proportionality is defined, ClientEarth (2011), states that the proportionality principle: “..requires that measures implemented through [EU] provisions should be appropriate for attaining the objective pursued..”. In other words it requires that the demands placed upon suppliers should be both relevant and directly related to the contract being awarded.
Transparency is the principle of taking every action to publicise the tender contract details. The company should ensure the tender information is widely advertised and readily available to any, and all, interested parties. This would include making all the relevant rules, details, specific requirements, technical specification and award criteria information freely available to all prospective stakeholders. No information or details should be withheld which could negatively impact or disadvantage a potential or prospective supplier. To ensure maximum transparency, many companies now take advantage of online tender portals, such as TED (tenders electronic daily), to publish electronic tender or ‘eTendering’, which gain a European-wide audience of prospective suppliers. Many other industry-focused and national online portals also exist for the use of eTendering.