Which of the newly introduced measures will have the greatest positive effect on the level of transparency in public procurement?
In my opinion, the introduction of an obligation to publish concluded public procurement contracts, including any amendments, and the price actually paid for performance will have the greatest positive effect on the level of transparency in public procurement. The amendment also introduces a new definition of publication, including specification of the means of publication.
Contracting authorities of above-the-threshold and bellow-the-threshold public contracts will be henceforth (with the exception of cases listed by the act) obliged to publish a preliminary indicative notice of their intention to award a public contract one month ahead of the launch of the award procedure. Such notice will also include explanation of the need to perform the contract.
The amendment further introduces, among other measures, the abolition of the possibility to limit the number of tenderers by a draw. Such measure will undoubtedly increase the level of transparency of the award procedure.
Which of the new measures will be the most difficult to implement effectively?
Lowering the threshold of public contracts by half will in practice mean a significant increase of the Office for Protection of Competition's case load of claims for review of contracting authorities’ actions. Only time will show how the Office is going to deal with this reality.
How will the government supervise the implementation to ensure it is done uniformly and that all levels of government achieve the transparency and efficiency made possible by the new act?
The Ministry of Regional Development is preparing relatively extensive training regarding the amendment. Among other measures, it sets up new legal institute of so called “person with special qualification”, i.e. a person with the knowledge of the Act on Public Contracts (no. 137/2006 Coll.) in employment or other relation to the contracting authority. These personnel will be intensively trained.
The Government Anti-corruption Strategy for the Years 2011 and 2012 outlines task no. 2.6., Annual Report of Public Procurement in the Czech Republic. Its subject matter is the obligation to compile and submit annually, until May 31, to the Government an “Annual Report of Public Procurement in the Czech Republic”, describing the system using a set of selected indicators. The report will be used to analyse the impact of the measures implemented. The indicators shall be developed on central, regional, municipal level and also by key public institutions.
“Important public contracts” are introduced. On the national level above 300 million, whereas in the case of local authorities (regions, municipalities) above 50 million CZK. Those contracts shall be approved on the national level by the Government, in the case of local authorities the council. Longer time-limits are also introduced to submit a bid in case of those public contracts.
What should be the next most important issue in public procurement to be solved?
First of all, given that the amendment introduces a series of new obligations for contracting authorities and places requirement for administrative as well as expert precision of the personnel, it is indispensable to focus on the precise application of the extensive amendment which will come into force as of April 1, 2012. Currently a highly discussed matter of transparency of the legal persons is at the moment tackled by newly proposed legislation, now in the interdepartmental comment procedure.
How long will the full implementation take and when could first results be visible?
The amendment as a whole will come into force as of April 1, 2012. Excluding certain new measures aimed at lowering the threshold for all kinds of public contracts to 1 million CZK, the actions of the “person with special qualification”, and opponent expert opinion in the case of “important public contracts” which will all come into force as of January 1, 2014.