Reverse Bidding for Data Connectivity across the Public Service- A First for Malta
Written by Danielle Mercieca
We may all be familiar with a traditional auction process where competitors raise bids to acquire the object or property that is up for sale. The same concept can be applied to public procurement, in an electronic manner and also in reverse!
An eAuction is a real-time dynamic procurement procedure conducted online between a buying Contracting Authority and a number of pre-qualified suppliers who compete against each other to earn the Contracting Authority’s business. This procedure is appropriate for categories with strong competitive environments among numerous qualified suppliers or when there is a low level of procurement complexity, and specifications are well-defined industry standards.
In a ‘first’ for the Agency and indeed also for Malta’s public procurement, MITA has successfully pioneered a reverse electronic auction as part of the procurement process for the provision of data connectivity services for the Malta Public Service. The imminent coming into force of Government’s remote working policy led to the need to equip remote workers with the equipment and data connectivity necessary to carry out their work remotely. For this reason, in collaboration with the Office of the Prime Minister – Office of the Permanent Secretary (People & Standards) and the Office of the Permanent Secretary within the Ministry for Energy, Enterprise and Sustainable Development (MESD), MITA sought to conduct a reverse e-auction, during which operators competed aggressively to reduce their prices and grab the chance to provide a substantial portion of the Public Service with data connectivity.
Following a call for tenders in which a selection of electronic communication service providers were invited to submit the eligibility, technical and financial information, compliant bidders were invited to participate in an auction process. Conducted as a completely electronic process through the Government’s Electronic Public Procurement System (EPPS), bidders were allowed a pre-determined period of time to outbid each other financially, in real time, within defined parameters, and without the possibility of renegotiating or revising the technical specifications and contractual terms as originally agreed upon when submitting their bid.
The outcome of this exercise is savings to the tune of 37.5% from the maximum allowed rate per connection per month. The initiative will also provide a uniform and harmonised service across the Public Service being provided through a framework contract with one Economic Operator, at very competitive rates, to cater for all data connections required for remote workers. Contracting Authorities across Government will now be able to acquire data connectivity services through this centralised purchasing mechanism established by MITA. This goes to show that innovation can be implemented across all areas of Government- with a little creativity and determination even a call for tenders can be designed innovatively and effectively to achieve substantial efficiency and cost savings for Government.
As part of its strategy, MITA endeavours to provide high-quality digital consultancy services to the Public Administration, to develop procurement frameworks, and to work with the Public Administration to understand better how MITA can assist them in achieving their business requirements. In this specific instance, MITA was quick to respond to the request to assist with the implementation of the Remote Working Policy across the Public Service, by providing its technology expertise, designing and managing the entire procurement process as a Central Purchasing Body, within very stringent timeframes and at the turn of the summer recess period.
Having paved the way for the first reverse auction, MITA will reutilise this procurement procedure whenever the particular circumstances of the procurement will allow, as it continues to seek out appropriate use cases to implement reverse auctions, and who knows…. maybe other innovative procurement and electronic procedures, to continue maximising on investments made in electronic tools!