European businesses and organisations are being asked how they could be helped with e-procurement, as the European Commission continues its push to wean government institutions and other public sector organisations off paper-based procurement.
On Monday the Commission launched an e-procurement consultation in the form of a green paper, which identifies obstacles to e-procurement take-up and spells out the risks of "divergent national approaches", a perennial bugbear of the Commission's.
"The European Commission has always promoted the use of information and communication technology in public procurement," internal market and services commissioner Michel Barnier said in a statement. "Our evaluation shows that where it is being used, it increases the speed and efficiency of public purchasing while significantly cutting the costs when participating in tenders."
According to the Commission, the green paper will be of interest to national ministries, large procurement agencies and contracting authorities, tech firms, private and public sector procurement specialists and representatives of business trade associations.
"It represents a first step towards a more comprehensive programme to harness the potential of ICT for better public procurement in Europe," the statement read. "The responses received from interested parties will help in drawing up a programme of EU level actions to enhance the use of e-procurement (which is to be finalised during 2011)."
The Commission also launched a new online database called e-Certis, which is intended as an aid to companies that want to tender for public contracts in the EU but need help understanding the regulatory, standardisation and interoperability implications of this.