While public tenders for IT systems are a major part of the public tender market in Poland, the drafting of the relevant tender documentation for conducting procedures of this kind continues to be a source of many problems for contracting authorities.

More than ten years ago, in 2009, the President of the Polish Public Procurement Office drew up the first guidelines for Awarding Public Tender Contracts for IT Systems[1].

Clearly, those 2009 Guidelines are now partially obsolete and no longer suited to contracting authorities’ requirements. This is because the IT market is changing rapidly, and with it the methods by which software is distributed. It is becoming increasingly common for software to be supplied in the form of cloud computing or SaaS. The way in which software is produced, and collaboration with the contracting authority when software is being designed (more and more frequently using the agile method to create software, testing software prototypes, or releasing a pilot version) is a factor, as is the coming into force as of January 1, 2021 of a new Public Procurement Law[2].

In view of these developments, the President of the Polish Public Procurement Office began measures in 2020 to draw up new guidelines on public tenders for IT systems, intended to address the current needs of contracting authorities and IT suppliers alike. Various representatives of the IT sector were invited to join the IT system taskforce and collaborate on the drawing up of New Guidelines, and members of associations also played an active part, from the Chamber of Electronic Economy (Izba Gospodarki Elektronicznej), the Polish Information Processing Society (Polskie Towarzystwo Informatycznego), the Polish Data Center Association (Polski Związek Ośrodków Przetwarzania Danych), Polish Chamber of Information Technology and Telecommunications (Polska Izba Informatyki i Telekomunikacji) and the Association of Importers and Producers of Electrical and Electronic Equipment – ZIPSEE “Digital Poland” (Związek Importerów i Producentów Sprzętu Elektrycznego i Elektronicznego – ZIPSEE Cyfrowa Polska).

Volume I of the President of the Public Procurement Office Guidelines on public tenders for IT systems, containing tips for contracting authorities – what you need to know and consider before commencing IT system tender proceedings[3] was published on the Public Procurement Office website in June 2020.

This Volume I provides practical advice for contracting authorities on issues they should consider when planning and making preparations for a procedure relating to an IT system, and on the implications the decisions launching the procurement process have for the procedure subsequently[4].

Volume II followed in March 2021, when the President of the Public Procurement Office published, and submitted for consultation, this volume of Guidelines on the Tender Description and Preparations for Public Tenders for IT systems[5]. This was a lengthy document with up-to-date tips and guidelines sorted into categories of various kinds, on drawing up the tender description in a tender for an IT system.

The measures taken by the President of the Public Procurement Office to produce new guidelines suited to the present market climate, concerning tender contracts for IT systems, is a welcome development. The fact that various organizations and trade associations were asked to contribute in drawing up those guidelines, and the broadly conducted public consultations, are also a hopeful indication that the documents eventually produced will truly address the current needs of contracting authorities, and will be practical documents suited to current market requirements. This will hopefully reduce the number of complaints filed with the National Appeals Chamber regarding the content of the tender terms of reference. At the same time, the final form of the Guidelines will largely be determined by the extent of involvement of IT market players (contracting authorities and contractors) in the feedback process during the consultations.

[1]https://www.uzp.gov.pl/__data/assets/pdf_file/0025/27574/Rekomendacje_UZP20ws._zamowiec584_na_systemy_informatyczne.pdf (access: 18.04.2021).

[2] See https://www.uzp.gov.pl/baza-wiedzy/dobre-praktyki/rekomendacje-dotyczace-zamowien-publicznych-na-systemy-informatyczne (access: 18.04.2021).

[3] See https://www.uzp.gov.pl/strona-glowna/slider-aktualnosci/zamowienia-publiczne-na-systemy-informatyczne-pierwszy-tom-rekomendacji/zamowienia-publiczne-na-systemy-informatyczne-pierwszy-tom-rekomendacji (access: 18.04.2021).

[4] See https://www.uzp.gov.pl/strona-glowna/slider-aktualnosci/zamowienia-publiczne-na-systemy-informatyczne-pierwszy-tom-rekomendacji/zamowienia-publiczne-na-systemy-informatyczne-pierwszy-tom-rekomendacji (access: 18.04.2021).

[5] https://www.uzp.gov.pl/strona-glowna/slider-aktualnosci/zamowienia-publiczne-na-systemy-informatyczne-konsultacje-rekomendacji/zamowienia-publiczne-na-systemy-informatyczne-konsultacje-rekomendacji (access: 18.04.2021).