Read the first part here: “Creative agencies in Estonia about public procurement: is it now time for technocrats to shine?”
Everyone agrees that the tender organiser must follow a value-based framework to achieve the best outcome. Let’s list some of these principles:
The aim of public tenders is to ensure that companies, regardless of size or background, get an equal shot. This requires clear, corruption-proof rules. Yet, sometimes a bidder is met with silence, not understanding why their proposal scored lower than a competitor’s. Such secrecy signals that something’s amiss.
Mario Sõrm from Sorainen law firm: “Regarding secrecy, the law requires the organiser to provide certain information (note the wording): to the bidder who submitted the accepted proposal, the names of the successful bidder or bidders, and data characterising the successful proposal that gave it an edge. If the advantage is in higher scores for a qualitative criterion, the reasons for the score difference should be explained.”
Fortunately, there’s some guidance from the Dispute Committee (VaKo) and the European Court about what needs to be clarified. A bidder should understand why they scored as they did. If only scores are provided and it’s not just a cost-based evaluation, the bidder can’t deduce why they received such scores. Unfortunately, practice doesn’t always align well.
Public tenders always carry the risk of something going wrong, like supplier bankruptcy, quality issues, or unforeseen circumstances. Hence, tender processes should be designed to minimise these risks.
Some tender projects can be very specific and require careful planning. It’s baffling when creative agencies are expected to provide a simple campaign solution for less than 10,000 euros, with a reward of a 1,5 million euro framework contract, all discussed in less than 50 pages with scant attention to content context. It sometimes feels like bureaucrats put effort into forms (like those describing team members) but skimp on substance.
Tender committees or officials may not be well-versed in the nuances of the creative field, leading to inappropriate conditions or criteria.
If organisers lack the necessary understanding, mistakes can be made, leading to oversights.
Some tenders may have technical requirements too stringent for creative projects. It’s like a tailor-made game for someone’s advantage.
Despite being overstaffed, agencies might lack time, money, or knowledgeable personnel, leading to incomplete tender documents or procedures.
Criteria can be subjective or unclear. It’s “interesting” to read tender documents buying “something” indescribable. Expectations aren’t stated, but must be guessed.
Poor or formal communication can confuse potential bidders. Creative professionals know how time-consuming and complex it is to devise creative strategies.
Tender processes can be rigid, not allowing necessary adjustments in the creative field.
Understanding the market situation and clearly defining tender goals and needs is crucial. Sometimes, it feels like the organiser expects the bidder to be a clairvoyant.
It’s vital that public tender organisers in the creative sector understand its uniqueness and offer clear, open communication. Equally important are objective, measurable evaluation criteria and a willingness to consider flexible solutions for project success.
To be continued…