WATER CONDITIONING AGENTS IN OBRENOVAC DISTRICT HEATING SYSTEM (2018)
Similar to the case of public procurement of water treatment agents for the heating system of the Clinical Center of Serbia, in this public procurement procedure the contracting authority concluded the contract with the company “Ovex inženjering” d.o.o. from Belgrade, the same bidder that’s been awarded the contracts for the same subject of procurement several years in a row.
An interested party made a request for additional clarification of the tender documentation, thus indicating to the contracting authority that the technical specifications – which contained precise chemical composition of the required agent and the exact list of the components it must contain – were made to limit the competition in favor of the bidder “Ovex inženjering” d.o.o. from Belgrade. In support of this claim, the interested party has stated the fact that for the previous 5 years (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017) the contracting authority concluded a contract for the same subject of procurement exclusively with this bidder, and that in each of these previous 5 years, in addition to the selected bidder, only he submitted a bid, but could not be selected because he did not meet the required technical characteristics, although his bid was more favorable.
The interested party further indicated that the contracting authority could have selected some other components to achieve the necessary functions of the chemical it procures, i.e. that there are chemicals that with a smaller number of components (or with different components) can achieve the same results that the contracting authority required. As an example, he stated that the product he offers has less than the required number of components and that some of those components are different from those requested by the contracting authority, but that they enable all the requested functions. As proof of his claims, the interested party submitted the opinion of the Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Environmental Protection, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in Novi Sad from 2012, which contained a test of water conditioning efficiency using a multifunctional chemical manufacturer from Austria that he’s offering, along with the opinion of the Innovation Center of the Faculty of Technology and Metallurgy in Belgrade from 2018, which contained an examination of the functionality of the same product.
The contracting authority denied all the allegations of the interested person, except for the one which pointed out that the contract has been awarded to the same bidder for several previous years.
The result of this public procurement procedure was that the contract was awarded to the bidder “Ovex inženjering” d.o.o. from Belgrade (as well as in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, but also in the following 2019), which was exactly what the interested party warned about in his request for protection of rights. In all cases when “Ovex inženjering” was awarded a contract for this subject of public procurement, the only acceptable bid was precisely his bid, and the price he offered was close to the estimated value of the public procurement.
From all the above, it is completely obvious that the contracting authority in this case limited the competition by favoring a certain bidder by describing the technical characteristics, and prevented other bidders from submitting bids that would meet those characteristics.
The contracting authority wanted the product offered by the bidder claimed to be favored. He practically didn’t even hide it, justifying his decision with the fact that this was a “verified” product that he has been using for years without any problems. However, the question remains why the contracting authority was so convinced that no other product would suit him, and why he refused the product containing chemicals with a different composition and that could achieve the same requested functions. The fact that the contracting authority uses a certain product (of a certain chemical composition) every year, does not mean that no other product would suit him.
We’d like to point out the fact that in this case the contracting authority conducted an open public procurement procedure, which is characterized by the fact that all interested parties can submit a bid and which, therefore, implies the widest possible competition. It is clear that no such competition was ensured in this case, and that the contracting authority violated not only the principle of competition, but also the provision of the Public Procurement Law which stipulates that the contracting authority may not use or refer to technical specifications or standards that denote particular goods, services or works.