Communication with the market
Communication with the market is key for the contracting authority and will usually help them get an idea of how to define the tender conditions.
The contracting authority may communicate with the market in particular using two methods provided for by law – either through market research or a preliminary market consultation.
Both methods are directed at analysing the market and defining the tender conditions correctly. These should be considered by the contracting authority mainly in such public contracts that are in some way unusual compared to standard practice.
When communicating with contractors, the contracting authority must act impartially and ensure the reviewability of its actions. All contractors must have the same opportunity to win the public contract. This is especially true for the market consultation, which is characterised by active discussion with contractors, as opposed to simple and non-interactive market research.
Preliminary market consultation (PMC)
A PMC is an advance form of communication with the market.
During the PMC, the contracting authority informs the market about the planned public contract and, at the same time, gives contractors an opportunity to discuss their idea of the tender terms (requirements). This is how the contracting authority will receive feedback and will be able to consider any possible alternative solutions.
It is up to the contracting authority to decide which entities to contact for the PMC. It can be both local contractors as well as national or international contractors. The relevant factor should be the object of the public contract. The contracting authority will take different steps in the case of a public contract for a few hundreds of thousands of Czech crowns and different steps in the case of a public contract for tens or hundreds of millions. Besides the value, it is also important whether or not the contracting authority already has experience with the given type of performance.
The law does not impose any special requirements on the course of the PMC. The only rule is that it must not distort the equality between contractors who compete with each other. As a rule, the contracting authority initiates the PMC by a public announcement and by inviting contractors to participate. The form in which the PMC is implemented depends on the contracting authority only. It can be written communication with the participants (such as by distributing questionnaires or forms), or a group or individual personal meeting, or a combination of these methods. At the same time, the PMC must be documented (in minutes or in an audio / video recording). In the subsequent public contract, the contracting authority will then indicate the findings obtained based on the PMC.
Meet the buyer
Besides the PMC, which relates to a specific public contract, the contracting authority may also organise meetings with a wider group of contractors – a “Meet the Buyer” event – without a link to any specific tender procedure. This event consists mainly in the presentation of the planned public contracts to potential contractors to inform them about the contracting authority’s plans for a certain period. This form of communication with the market is also used by contracting authorities to present planned investments, new procedures, strategies and concepts, such as in relation to socially responsible and sustainable procurement and innovative solutions.
As for market research, the contracting authority may carry it out on its own, for example as a business search, without any specific cooperation with the contractor, based on information commonly available on the website (such as internet offers, price lists, and leaflets).
In the Czech Republic, this topic is dealt with by
Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs addresses the topic by publishing books within the Socially Responsible Public Procurement project.
The Ministry also uses individual institutes of communication with the market as a contracting authority.
Asociace pro veřejné zakázky, z. s.
Asociace pro veřejné zakázky (the Association for Public Procurement) is a platform for entities that share a common interest in developing the public procurement environment and in promoting a qualified and responsible approach to the award and implementation of public contracts.
Asociace pro rozvoj infrastruktury, z. s.
As a body promoting clear rules governing planning, public procurement and transparent contractual relations, Asociace pro rozvoj infrastruktury (the Association for Infrastructure Development) is a regular supporter and organiser of preliminary market consultations relating to transport infrastructure projects.
Povodí Vltavy, státní podnik
Povodí Vltavy, a state-owned enterprise, is one of the first contracting authorities in the Czech Republic to focus on obtaining wider social benefits when awarding its public contracts. As part of its communication with the market, the contracting authority makes an annual presentation of the public procurement plan to potential contractors.
Ředitelství silnic a dálnic ČR
In recent years, Ředitelství silnic a dálnic ČR (the Road and Motorway Directorate) has made extensive use of preliminary market consultations. It is planning to use preliminary market consultations and Meet the Buyer events to expand the established socially responsible procurement, which should lead to the definition of its other objectives and further strategy and priorities in the given area, including the related training of the organisation’s employees.
Správa železnic is one of the pioneers of preliminary market consultations for a wide range of public contracts, as well as of the Meet the Buyer events. The organisation uses these activities to inform the relevant market about upcoming public contracts for the next period.
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