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Under the Public Contracts Act, the public administration authorities must put out to tender its contracts that exceed a threshold value. Follow competitive tendering closely and participate in market prospections. If your company participates in a competitive bidding process, prepare your offer carefully, following the instructions. If you think that your company has been treated unfairly in the process, you can file a claim for a revised decision, an appeal or a request for action to be taken.
The Public Contracts Act relates to procurement undertaken outside a public entity’s own organisation. Public entities are, the example, the central government, municipalities and their institutions. The Public Contracts Act may also apply to a company if it receives public aid for its procurement worth in excess of half the total value of the contract. Procurement may entail buying, renting or contracting.
Public contracts must be put out to tender if their value is estimated to exceed a specific threshold. For national contracts, the threshold value is between EUR 60,000 and 500,000 and for EU contracts between EUR 139,000 and 5,350,000. The contract may not be artificially split so that it could be kept under the threshold value.
The threshold value is not the same for all sectors: for example, the threshold applied to construction contracts is different from what is used in social welfare and health care services. In EU contracts, the threshold value also depends on who purchases the products or services.
If the value of a public contract is under the national threshold, this counts as a small contract. These do not need to be put out to tender.
In special sectors, the relevant parts of the Public Contracts Act apply. Special sectors are water and energy supply, transport and postal services.
Public contracts are announced openly, and the competitive bidding process is undertaken electronically. Follow competitive tendering on the HILMA website. There all contracts exceeding the national and EU thresholds in terms of value are announced. Carry out market prospection too, in areas of interest to you.
Although there is no need to put small contracts out to tender, the government and many municipalities do so anyway. You can see this on the Hanki service (eTendering tool) and the local authority procurement calendars and portals. Go to Hanki website. Small contracts can also be found on HILMA.
If you find a suitable competition, look carefully at the invitation to tender and its accompanying documents. Make your offer in full compliance with the instructions and by the deadline given.
Large contracts may be divided into smaller parts. In that case, your company can submit a tender for one or several sub-contracts. If your company does not have enough resources to take part in the competitive tendering alone and to manage the contract on its own, you can submit a joint tender with other companies.
Your company should carry out market prospection for contracts of interest to it. If you do, you will know in advance about a future contract. You may also present your company and products to the contracting authority.
Market prospection might allow you to have an influence on the details of the actual contract notice. If, for example, the contract is for something big, but your company is small, you could suggest splitting it up into smaller parts. In this way you could focus your offer on just one or a few parts of the competition. That would improve your company’s chances of taking part.
Make your offer in good time. Familiarise yourself fully with the contract notice and invitation to tender and its accompanying documents
If necessary, request further information. Remember that you can only usually request further information within a certain, well defined period. This period often ends well before the last day for the submission of tenders.
Prepare your tender and its accompanying documents precisely and exactly in accordance with the rules and instructions.
When you have drawn up the tender and other documents, read it through and check it again very carefully. Make sure it reflects the content of the invitation to tender, its accompanying documents and the contract notice. Check that your offer meets requirements and does not contain anything what has not been requested.
Remember that your tender will be automatically rejected if it fails to meet all the procedural and content-related rules set out in the invitation to tender. Your tender will also be automatically rejected if it is submitted after the deadline given in the invitation to tender.
If you believe that there has been a contravention of the Public Contracts Act or the terms and conditions of the invitation to tender in the competitive bidding process, present the contracting authority with a claim for a revision of the decision. Make the claim within 14 days of the time the decision reached your attention.
You may also file an appeal with the Market Court for a procedural error on the part of the contracting authority. File the appeal within 14 days of the time the decision reached your attention. There is often costs to you company if the Market Court hears your case.
In general you should present the contracting authority with a claim for a revision of the decision and the Market Court with notice of appeal at the same time. Because the 14 day time limit for both will run concurrently. If your claim for a revision of the decision produces a result, you can withdraw the appeal. If, however, the contracting authority does not amend the decision, you can continue to appeal to the Market Court.
You can also submit a request for action to the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority. The request is free of charge. However, the agency does not always take action on the basis of the requests because it focuses on contracts made in blatant disregard of the law. These include contracts for which no notification has been made or which are otherwise discriminatory or contain gross errors.