Bulgaria has published a draft amendment and supplement to the Public Procurement Act (PPA), which relate to the implementation of an electronic award system for public procurement.

The draft was released for the purpose of public consultations that began on 5 September 2019. Interested parties can file suggestions on the contents of the draft amendment by October 5.

The system for electronic awards of public procurement is scheduled to go into place on 1 November 2019 via a centralised digital platform. In addition to provisions related to digitalising the public procurement process, the draft specifies other changes to the PPA, which were formulated during the development of the platform, and include the following:

  • A significant change to the content of the Public Procurement Register: after 1 January 2020, all decisions made by the contracting authorities issued during the public-procurement procedure should be published. Additionally, the register should include all documents, explanations, minutes of meeting and reports from the work of the commissions and all agreements and annexes. As a result, all information for a given public procurement will be located in one place and – as of the date of publishing – all interested parties will be deemed notified.
  • A more precise formulation for market research conducted for calculating the estimated value of the public procurement: the estimated value will no longer be calculated according to the commencement date of the procurement. Also, the obligation of conducting market research is waived if this is objectively impossible due to the specifics of the procurement.
  • Changes that provide more clarity regarding the qualification systems used by the contracting entities: the draft suggests that there should be a separate decision via the qualification system for opening a procedure for awarding a public procurement. The contracting entity should approve the tender documentation and the invitation to submit a tender, or participate according to the same decision. Contracting entities should publish the announcement for establishing the qualification systems both in the Public Procurement Register and the Official Journal of the European Union.
  • More detailed and precise provisions in respect to in-house contracting: if the contracting entity does not have direct capital participation in the contractor, in-house contracting is admissible, unless such participation is permitted by national law (that complies with EU legislation) and the contracting entity does not have controlling or blocking rights over the contractor, and does not have a decisive impact in the contractor's operations.
  • A more simplified process for publication of announcements or additional information: again with the view of launching the platform, the draft envisions a simplified process for announcing the termination of a procurement in the sphere of defence and security. In this case, the Public Procurement Agency no longer needs to act as an intermediary.

Other amendments have been suggested pertaining to the adoption of different case law or case law that is not clear enough. For example, the draft includes explicit provisions for suspending a participant who has consented to be a subcontractor of another bidder, but has still filed a separate bid. Currently, a participant in this situation would be suspended based on general prohibitions in the Act.