Consultations with the Public Procurement Agency on the financing of social services

On Friday, 9 June 2021, the APSCF Secretariat together with representatives of member organisations participated in an online consultation with the representative of the Public Procurement Agency (PAA), Ms. Nadezhda Tanasov. The participants aimed to finding answers to questions related to the mechanism for contracting public services from the state budget by civil society organisations (CSOs), to understand if there is interest from state authorities to contract social services from providers. private individuals, including NGOs, and to find out whether in a tender CSOs would have certain facilities compared to other state organisations or private actors.

Nadezhda Tanasov, Head of the Procurement Monitoring Department within the Agency, mentioned that the public tender procedure, as provided in the Law 131 on public procurement, is open if the amount of the procurement service exceeds 400 thousand lei. The tenders are published on the government website, and the Agency organises free consultations on how to use the services in order to make purchases. The specificity of the procurement of social services from the state budget is based on the quality-cost ratio and is not evaluated exclusively according to the lowest cost offered.

AAP reiterated the equal opportunities, provided in the legislation, of any participant in the procurement process, regardless of the form of legal organisation. On the other hand, the representatives of the member organisations of APSCF mentioned the difficulty that NGOs face in the public procurement process, especially the presentation of the “bank guarantee”, a condition provided in art. 68 of the Law 131. Most CSOs do not have the planned long-term financial sources necessary to demonstrate this guarantee of financial coverage, which is a real obstacle in achieving the contracting of social services from the public budget.

In this context, Ms. Tanasov suggested to the members of APSCF the possibility of addressing to the Minister of Finance, an institution that develops legislative policies, an approach to amend such a provision, which would serve to support CSOs in the public procurement process.

The activity was organised within the project “Strengthening the advocacy capacities of APSCF members regarding the mechanism for contracting social services” implemented by APSCF with the support of Caritas Austria in the period 2020 – 2021. The aim of the project is to provide access to vulnerable, relevant services and high quality, provided by public and private structures. This project also aims to strengthen the capacities of APSCF member organisations to promote and increase access to mechanisms for contracting and financing social services.