The boost given to centralised purchasing, including at a public State level, in Spain is in line with the development of public procurement throughout Europe. Most EU Member States have central purchasing bodies which, although very different from an organisational perspective, respond to the same need for professionalisation and specialisation in public procurement.
Directive 2014/24/UE provides for this reality, indicating that the techniques for centralised purchasing are being increasingly used in most Member States and stating the suitability of establishing an EU-wide definition of central purchasing bodies at the service of contracting authorities. Its Article 37 provides for centralised purchasing activities and central purchasing bodies.
With the aim of exchanging experiences among different European central purchasing bodies that work within a common regulatory framework, the Central Purchasing Bodies Network was set up – an informal network that gathers together the State central purchasing bodies in Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Slovenia, Finland, France, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Sweden and, since May 2014, Spain, represented by the DGRCC [Directorate-General for Rationalisation and Central Procurement].
The CPB-Network holds two meetings a year at which different organisational models are presented and common problems are analysed in the regulation of central purchasing bodies and in managing contracts and framework agreements. Work is also done on drawing up indicators of common activities that allow comparative studies to be carried out and analysed on the functioning of organisations.
In addition to the representatives of central purchasing bodies, European Commission officials attend as observers, given the strategic role that this institution attributes to central purchasing bodies as the medium for conveying European Union policies on matters of public procurement.
To date, the DGRCC has attended the meetings held in Lisbon (2014), Reykjavik (2014), Paris (2015), Zagreb (2015), Vienna (2016), Ljubljana (2016), Stockholm (2017), Madrid (2017), Helsinki (2018), Dublin (2019) and Oslo (2019). The last meeting was held by videoconference from Lisbon in October 2020 due to the health situation.
On 19 and 20 October 2017, the half-yearly meeting of the CPB-Network was held in Madrid, whereby it fell to the DGRCC to act as host. The meeting, attended by central purchasing bodies of 14 countries, was used to address organisational and functional aspects of central purchasing bodies. Three working groups were also set up relating to dynamic purchasing systems, sustainability and award criteria for service contracts.
Meeting of the CPB-Network in Madrid
At an international level, the DGRCC has also been invited to attend several events where it presented its project to boost centralised procurement and exchange experiences with other central purchasing bodies, including the following noteworthy events:
Between 29 and 31 October 2018, the OECD Public Procurement Week was held in Paris, at which Spain participated through a delegation from the DGRCC. The event focused on the analysis of the benefits and challenges of the implementation of the OECD Recommendation on Public Procurement at all levels of the administration and in different sectors.
On 18 October 2018, the DGRCC attended the conference entitled “Digital transformation of public procurement”, organised by DG-GROWTH (Directorate-General for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs) of the European Commission, which was held in Lisbon. The conference was used to discuss the sweeping changes that will take place for public procurement in the near future as a result of the digital transformation, which is why this is one of the main priorities of the European Commission’s Public Procurement Strategy.
In line with the European Commission’s Public Procurement Strategy and in relation to the scope of application for the professionalisation of public purchasers, the DGRCC is participating in the first programme for Excellence in Public Procurement organised by the Austrian central purchasing body and the University of Economics and Business of Vienna, that began on 24 September 2018.
On 7 June 2018, a delegation from the Ministry of Economy, Development and Trade of the Ukraine made a working visit to the DGRCC to see first-hand the organisation and functioning of the State central purchasing body in Spain, within the framework of visits being made to several European countries with the aim of seeing for themselves the different models to implement public procurement policies and streamline procurement.
On 23 April 2016, the DGRCC collaborated in the workshop organised by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the National Public Procurement Authority of Tunisia on public procurement, aimed at public bodies and companies, with speakers from the EBRD, from several European central purchasing bodies and from the Administrative Tribunal of Strasbourg.
Similarly, the Portuguese Central Purchasing Body (ESPAP) invited the DGRCC to take part in the 2nd Annual Conference of shared services and public procurement, held in Lisbon on 2 December 2015. The conference, principally directed at ministerial departments and other administrative bodies in Portugal, with participation from experts from Portuguese and international organisations, presented the general aspects of the project to boost the centralisation of public procurement developed in Spain following the CORA report.
On 2 and 3 December 2015, the DGRCC collaborated with the European Commission at a workshop on public purchasing held in San Salvador within the framework of the TAIEX projects in Central America. This workshop was attended by representatives from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Panama. Good practices regarding purchasing and advice on certain issues related to the functioning of central purchasing bodies were exchanged at these meetings.
The TAIEX group of the European Commission, engaged in facilitating compliance with the requirements demanded by the EU for countries aspiring to join, also invited the DGRCC to present two seminars in Belgrade (Serbia) in November 2014 and June 2015 to representatives of the Serbian central purchasing body, and to personnel from public bodies and companies, on the strategic plan for the creation of a State central purchasing body, the example of the Spanish central purchasing body and good practices on central purchasing, the example of the definition, public tender process and management of a complex centralised purchase procedure, together with the services of travel agencies for the Central Government in Spain.
The Directorate-General for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs of the European Commission invited the DGRCC to Warsaw in April 2015, to present its project to representatives of public authorities from Bulgaria, the Ukraine and Poland.
In December 2014, the DGRCC took part in a series of workshops on “Electronic Government open to citizens. This was towards a new paradigm based on transparency, participation and collaboration”, held in Cartagena de Indias, at which it outlined the model of the new State central purchasing body in Spain and its impact on improved efficiency in public spending, on guarantees and transparency in procurement, and a round table was held on similar experiences of central purchasing bodies in Ibero-America. These workshops were also attended by public servants from Ibero-American countries.
In October 2014, the Directorate-General presented the central purchasing process being carried out by the Directorate-General for Rationalisation and Central Procurement to a Group of Experts in Public Procurement from the European Union. This group praised the major progress made by the Spanish authorities in this field in such a short time.