The most value for money in public procurement is linked to a competitive tendering process. This means encouraging multiple bidders to present offers. There are many ways to do this, all of which have a demonstrable effect on value for money of a purchase. In this series of articles, we will explore how competitive the overall public procurement tendering process is for European countries. Data was extracted from Tenders Electronic Daily or TED, one of the many data sources we use for tenders and contracts data. We looked at data over the past three financial years (FY), counted as between 1st April and 31st March.

This first part of a three-part series explores the average response time for tenders. In order to encourage more than just the incumbent supplier to bid, there needs to be enough time for any bidder to submit a suitable response. Failure to do so at best makes the process uncompetitive and at worst makes the process collusive.

Average response time for tenders (3 FY average)

The top five countries who provide the most time for bidders to respond are the Netherlands, Denmark, Serbia, the UK and Sweden.

 

Country Average response time Trend TED average
Netherlands 77 days +37% 40 days
Denmark 61 days +33% 40 days
Serbia 50 days +23% 40 days
United Kingdom 48 days +33% 40 days
Sweden 45 days +22% 40 days

 

All five countries have seen improvements over the past three financial years, that is to say the time for response is increasing. Meanwhile, the TED average stands at 40 days and is also improving. The top three: the Netherlands, Denmark and Serbia, are all significantly ahead of average at 77, 61, and 50 days respectively.

The averages for the top 5 are somewhat close to the TED average suggesting that the other side of the average provides between 35 and 40 days. The data generally supports this with only Malta, the lowest, falling outside of that window.

 

Country Average response time Trend TED average
Malta 31 days +11.5% 40 days
Albania 34 days -14.3% 40 days
Austria 34 days +3.3% 40 days
Slovenia 35 days -6.5% 40 days
Romania 45 days -1.3% 40 days

 

When we look at the bottom five, 3 have seen response times getting shorter and therefore worse over the past three years. By contrast the top 5 has seen double digit percentage improvement. There is grounds for optimism however: the lowest of the TED European countries, Malta, gives an average of 31 days to respond. This in itself is not generally an unreasonable period of time to respond to a call to tender.

To conclude, in this aspect, European countries on average provide at least a month to respond to tenders which is generally sufficient for all but the largest contracts. In the next part of the series, we’ll be looking at tenders with an abnormally low description and title, another key indicator of uncompetitive tenders.

You can find out more about our research at www.spendnetwork.com or look at our data at https://openopps.com.

Alex Yeung is Manager at OpenOpps and Spend Network. We manage the largest open database of over 20m procurement documents in the world mapped to a common standard (Open Contracting Data Standard). Our database is ever growing as we collect tens of thousands of procurement documents every day from hundreds of sources. We use this data to work with governments around the world to provide better value for money and outcomes for public procurement.