The European Ombudsman, who investigates complaints of maladministration by EU institutions, publically criticised the European Commission (Commission) for unfairly excluding an Italian company from a € 4 million tender. The investigation followed a complaint by the leader of a consortium bidding for an EU project concerning harmonisation of EU-Russian energy policies. The consortium was one of only two bidders which met the Commission's technical requirements. Nevertheless, the evaluation committee excluded its tender on the basis of a miscalculation which led to the assumption that the bid exceeded the committed budget. The Ombudsman's investigation found that the misunderstanding could have been resolved if the evaluation committee had sought to verify the arithmetic calculations with the consortium before excluding it. The failure to do so was, in his opinion, an instance of maladministration. The Ombudsman is not empowered to impose any sanction, but he has advised the Commission that it should offer compensation.