Common (or joint) procurement is the cooperation of two or more authorities in a procurement process. Within SPICE, the focus is on the procurement of innovative solutions in the field of transport and mobility. Common Buyers Groups aim to increase the harmonisation between solutions, the volumes of procurement and the cost-effectiveness of procurement (economy-of-scale). Creating a Common Buyers Group is useful, since it can stimulate the market and reduce transaction costs. However, lack of experience with common procurement can lead to a possible lack of trust between procurers and operators. Procurers look for various ways to cooperate, such as procuring in parallel or having common specifications. There are different drivers and needs when introducing the best fitting type of cooperation in a certain procurement case. Cooperation and negotiation helps public procurers to learn from each other and find ways to procure innovative solutions. That is where the SPICE project fits in and can support Common Buyers Groups to trigger innovation in the procurement process.
Based on the information collected in SPICE, four different types of cooperation in public procurement have been identified: (1) joint procurement, (2) procuring in parallel, (3) joint procurement via a central body, and (4) procurement based on a common specification. The cooperating parties can either be all from one Member State or from multiple Member States (cross-border cooperation). Regarding the type of cooperation, some countries or authorities are more familiar with specific practices of procuring commonly, whereas other countries have not established practices of common procurement yet. Joint procurement by a central body seems to be quite well recognised and utilised within EU countries. The concept of cross-border joint procurement has not yet been undertaken widely due to the complexity and other aspects.
SPICE has analysed thirteen examples of joint procurement and studied strengths and weaknesses of different types of joint procurement. Strengths are found in the potential of innovation, the reduced costs and higher quality of the solutions. But due to the highly complex contracts, more time is needed and there is a risk of the contract failing, if mutual consent takes too long. Threats in joint procurement are widespread, ranging from an inflexible administrative structure with many rules and laws, language barriers, and a possible lack of willingness and trust.
SPICE is encouraging public authorities to take the next steps towards innovative procurement, meaning any cooperation (full or partial) of two or more public authorities who want to learn, discuss or even plan procurement of innovative mobility solutions. SPICE supports the process of bringing potential partners together to shape and initiate cooperation. SPICE can organise the first meetings or offer advice on how and on which parts of the procurement process to cooperate on, or just provide a forum to discuss common issues and learn from one another. Please find more information about SPICE Common Buyers Groups here and contact us if interested!
The SPICE project deliverable D4.1 is now added to the SPICE library. The aim of the deliverable D.4.1 is to give a first overview on joint procurement and give a definition of the concept of Common Buyers Groups in the context of SPICE. The report draws the big picture of this quite underrated approach to innovative procurement by providing insights into the definition, types, benefits and pain points of common procurement.