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European Commission launches pilot projects for electronic procurement

As part of its continuing efforts to improve the efficiency of the European Union's vast public procurement market, the European Commission has just launched the first two pilot projects under the so-called SIMAP initiative. SIMAP (Systeme d'Information pour les Marchés Public...

As part of its continuing efforts to improve the efficiency of the European Union's vast public procurement market, the European Commission has just launched the first two pilot projects under the so-called SIMAP initiative. SIMAP (Systeme d'Information pour les Marchés Publics) will use modern information technology to ensure the widest possible dissemination of information about public procurement contract opportunities to potential suppliers and enable them to respond and interact electronically with the purchasers. Commenting on the launching of the pilot projects, Internal Market Commissioner, Mario Monti, said that "Developing and applying an effective public procurement policy is essential in delivering the best possible services at the lowest cost to the public. It is also of prime importance to helping EU suppliers to compete in an increasingly competitive world procurement market." He further emphasized the need to extend and improve present systems for collecting and disseminating information about contracting opportunities across the Union and to build confidence and commitment among suppliers and contracting entities. The Commissioner expressed his hope that SIMAP will provide a major impetus in this direction and commented that, although it is starting with two relatively modest projects, it is expected that the initiative will ultimately be extended to all suppliers and procurement entities in the EU and beyond. The first two pilot projects of the SIMAP initiative will involve about eighty contracting entities and information providers, nominated by the Member States, including some of the largest public purchasers in Europe. In the first pilot project, contracting entities will use electronic mail to send notices of tender opportunities and contracts awarded for publication in the Official Journal of the European Communities and in its on-line equivalent TED (Tenders Electronic Daily). The second pilot project will provide tools to give suppliers easier on-line access to tender opportunities and contracts awarded. It will also supply them with other information already available in the Member States which can help them to respond more competitively to public procurement opportunities. If these pilot projects are successful, on-line "procurement by wire" could be extended to all potential purchasers and suppliers both within and outside the EU.