In the past, the Italian public procurement system was characterised by having no digital system to manage purchases below the EU threshold, with a consequent significant lack of transparency, market openness and competition. Each public administration (PA) followed its internal rules when performing purchases below the EU threshold.
In 2003 the Italian Public Administration e-Marketplace (MePA) was introduced, which is a procurement platform managed by Consip SpA on behalf of the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF). MePA is one of the several tools through which Consip implements the Programme for the Rationalisation of Public Spending on Goods and Services launched in 2000 by the MEF, with the aim of optimising public spending. The MePA is a virtual market in which any PA can buy goods and services offered by suppliers, for purchases below the European threshold (ca. € 200 000). It is open to qualified suppliers according to non-restrictive selection criteria. The entire process is digital, using a digital signature in order to ensure legal compliancy and overall transparency of the process. It works just like a real market, as the same products can be found and are sold by several suppliers at different prices, terms and conditions. Suppliers may decide on the geographical area in which the delivery of their product/ services will take place and can optimise their selling strategy, at any time, by specifying different quality dimensions or by promoting in real-time new price conditions or new products. Thus, the dynamic dimension of the e-marketplace strongly enhances competition.
The rules that suppliers must observe in order to enrol and sell in the MePA are set in specific public notices published by Consip according to different product categories. MePA connects thousands of public bodies and suppliers distributed all over the Italian territory, both at a central and local level. Registered purchasing administrations can use the two purchasing tools: 1. ‘Direct Order’; administrations buy directly from e-catalogues. They choose the product, look at the delivery conditions, accept the price, fill in the order indicating the amounts they need, sign it digitally and send it to the supplier. At this stage the order represents a legally valid contract between the supplier and the buying administration. 2. ‘Request for Quotation’; allows the PA to negotiate the price and service conditions by inviting a pool of qualified suppliers to make a customised quotation that responds to the needs expressed. Responding suppliers provide both a price quotation and the details of technical/ quality improvements. Hence, more than one offer from various suppliers, stimulating strong competition and more favourable conditions than the ones offered in the e-catalogue, can be obtained. The role of Consip is to define qualification requirements and terms of conditions, as well as to monitor that transactions are performed according to the MePA rules; it does not, however, play any role during the transaction phase.
With the introduction of MePA the Italian public procurement system is characterised by a growing number of PAs and suppliers using a fully digital purchasing procedure. By the end of 2008, more than 4000 public buyers and 3000 suppliers were active users of the MePA, performing more than 50 000 transactions with a global value of € 172 million.
|Award category:||public service delivery|
|Sector:||Public administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reform|
|Type of activity:||strategic management and planning tools|
|Keywords:||Transparency, innovation, traceability, competitiveness, SME development, public procurement|
|Short English description:||MePA is one of the several tools through which Consip implements the Programme for the Rationalisation of Public Spending on Goods and Services launched in 2000 by the MEF, with the aim of optimising public spending.|
|Level of government:||national level|
|Size of organisation:||>100|
|Number of people involved:|
|EU membership:||EU member|