‘Zero Paper’ policy in public procurement

The measure means greater transparency in procurement processes, with artificial intelligence to be applied to contracting in a second stage.

Barcelona City Council and its affiliated entities formalised 54,062 contracts in 2018, totalling 338,902,047,26 euros. Of these contracts, 12,302 were signed with the City Council itself, while 41,760 were with the rest of the municipal group.

The First Deputy Mayor, Jaume Collboni, has declared that “Barcelona City Council will be applying a ‘Zero Paper’ policy in public procurement. This not only allows us to go paperless and help towards sustainability, but it also improves efficiency, the immediacy of processes, and transparency and accessibility for SMEs. We’re really serious about SMEs having access to procurement in the city. And we’re helping that happen with the ‘Zero Paper’ principle and the single procurement channel with the City Council”.

As of 1 February, offers can be presented for public contracts 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The e-procurement portal is the only communication channel between tenderers and bidders and Barcelona City Council’s procurement bodies, and those of the Municipal IT Institute and Barcelona d’Infraestructures Municipals (BIMSA). The rest of the autonomous bodies will be added over the course of 2020. The last five commercial companies will do so on 1 June 2021.

The platform has been developed as part of the implementation of the Integrated E-Procurement System (SICE), and to offer new tools enabling public policies relating to procurement to be more effectively controlled. To this end, an internal manager has been created to improve the process for approving contract procurement files and the external portal for communication with contracted parties.

Boosting online communication and procedures with tendering companies and providers also improves accessibility to municipal contracts for SMEs, in line with the community directives set out  in the new Act 9/2017, on public sector contracts.

In a second stage of the SICE, due to take place in March 2021, the two tools (manager and portal) will lay the foundations for the future application of artificial intelligence in procurement, with the introduction of an e-contract file. This will enable data obtained during the procurement process to be handled automatically and used by the system to propose a new improved procurement file, streamlining the process and standardising it for all City Council processes.

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