A new General Public Procurement Law in Costa Rica will enter into force on December 1, 2022, along with its Regulations.

One of the great milestones of this new contracting or public procurement regulation in the country is the uniformity and homogenization that will exist. As a rule, all State institutions must follow the procedures and provisions established therein, excluding the possibility of having different public procurement processes depending on the institution being analyzed.

In the case of the Costa Rican Social Security System, the procedures regulated in the Administrative Contracting Law and its Regulations are currently applied, supplemented by the "General Conditions for the Institutional Administrative Contracting of Goods and Services Developed by all the Decentralized Units and not Decentralized of the CCSS)”. Additionally, the institution applies a special procedure to directly import, manufacture, buy, sell, and export medications, raw materials, and conditioning and packaging materials required in their preparation, in accordance with articles 71 and 72 of the Constitutive Law of the CCSS and the "Regulation for the Purchase of Medicines and Raw Materials, Containers and Reagents".

The new General Law on Public Procurement will oblige the CCSS to implement all public procurement processes in accordance with the new provisions. This creates the challenge for companies supplying medicines, equipment and supplies to the CCSS, to have a comprehensive understanding of the new provisions applicable.

The following are some practical tips for CCSS provider companies in this context:

  • It is convenient to permanently prepare and train the technical teams and personnel involved in the purchasing processes regarding the new rules that operate these processes in the CCSS, based on the General Law of Public Procurement and its Regulations.
  • Ensure that they are listed as suppliers in the unified digital system regulated by the new Law. Although there are currently regulations that require the use of the SICOP for all public purchases, with the new Law there is no possibility of exceptions and even a contracting that is not done within the framework of the unified digital system could be considered void.
  • It is convenient to ensure constant training of company personnel involved in public procurement processes on the use of the unified digital system.
  • Companies are recommended to work with the CCSS to get involved in the market studies that will be carried out to determine the existence of a single supplier. With the new Law, the determination of sole supplier is an exception to the contest rule and must be preceded by a verification in the unified digital system, as well as a market study, and an invitation that must be made in said system, to know if there is more than one potential offeror to provide the contractual object and thus verify uniqueness.
  • Explore the possibility of proposing new procurement mechanisms to the CCSS that may result in improved access to medicines for patients with complex diseases, based on the concepts of strategic contracting and innovative public procurement.
  • Prepare for additional steps to be carried out from the moment the Law and its Regulations come into force, as:
  • Register in the Registry of suppliers and subcontractors and in the Registry of Reduced Tenders (previously called direct contracting for small amounts).
  • Prepare and present the necessary Affidavits to register in the Registry of suppliers.
  • Verify the planning for each budget period and the CCSS projected procurement program (in the first month of each budget period), which must be published in the unified digital system by the Institution.
  • Give inputs to the Price Bank that must be created in the unified digital system to have a catalog of services and goods to determine the budgets in the purchase of medicines. This will serve to feed market studies and verify reference prices.
  • Consider some other relevant modifications of the new Law, such as:
    • The possibility of unilateral modification for no more than 20% of the amount and term of the original contract (exceptionally for 50%).
    • The possibility of contractual assignment without a maximum percentage or the need for prior authorization by the CGR.
    • The elimination of the sanction of warning to supplier companies and only the possibility of disqualification (simple sanction from 6 months to 2 years and qualified sanction from 2 to 10 years).

The possibility of termination of the contract due to the inactivity of the Administration or the contractor, for a period that reaches six months, either continuously or the sum of the partial suspensions.