Written By Jáchym Hercher, European Commission, 29 Nov 2016

In Europe, a major change in open contracting is underway. The European Commission has proposed an overhaul of the EU-wide procurement forms and is asking for comments by January 16. These are the forms that must be used for publishing information across the EU for all contracts above roughly €200,000 for goods and services and €5 million for works. Annually, around €450-billion worth of contracts are published this way and the resulting data is searchable on Tenders Electronic Daily and is published as open data on the EU Open Data Portal.

The phases of the contracting process covered by the EU Forms are essentially the same as those covered by The Open Contracting Data Standard, but tailored to particular legal requirements of the EU context. Once the forms are agreed, they will, in essence, set out the data standards that apply for the mandatory sharing of EU procurement information for many years to come.

Below the EU publication threshold, however, things get more complicated. Most countries publish contracts according to their own national standards and only above a certain national threshold. Some have multiple below-threshold standards and publish duplicate information on different platforms, some are starting to use OCDS, and a few don’t publish at all. The European Commission has been trying to put all this data together within the Digital Whistleblower project – parsing and aggregating data in different standards, but the best solution for the future would be to bring all the existing standards closer together. This is one of the ambitions of the EU’s new forms, but for that we need it to be well prepared, which requires one thing above all – your help.

Given the expertise of the open contracting community, we would really appreciate getting your feedback on the drafts!

On the European Commission Website you will find an overview note, a technical specification of all the fields covered by the new forms and their data model, and a set of visualizations, built with input from the OCDS helpdesk, that present visual representations of the new forms.

You can provide comments on these until January 16 using the comment spreadsheet also available on the European Commission site.