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Activity Report of Transparency International Bulgaria in the Framework of the “Integrity Pacts – Civil Control Mechanism for Safeguarding EU Funds“ Project

01.08.2018

Reporting period: January – June 2018

 

During the reporting period the activities carried out by Transparency International Bulgaria for the better part followed the progress of the public procurement procedure which is being monitored in the framework of the project.

 

Since the reporting period coincided with the stage of tender evaluation in the third public procurement procedure for the design and construction of Zheleznitsa tunnel on Struma motorway, the monitoring of the current procedure covers the work of the evaluation committee, the administrative aspects of the tender evaluation and compliance with the legal regulations and in-house rules of the contracting authority. This includes issues such as appointment of committee members, declaration of members’ interests, compliance with the schedule of meetings, etc.

 

Monitoring and assessment of the committee’s actual work will be carried out after the end of this stage, since the members of the committee are under statutory prohibition to disclose facts of which they have become aware in relation to the tender evaluation, with the exception of the official minutes of the meetings that are published at the internet site of the contracting authority.

 

On 19 February 2018 the Road Infrastructure Agency (RIA) published two documents in relation to the current assessment, namely Minutes 1 and Minutes 1.1. The first document are the minutes of the open meeting of the committee held on 28 November 2017. The second are the minutes of meetings that the committee held in the period from 4 December 2017 to 13 February 2018 when the tenderers’ compliance with the eligibility criteria was examined. The committee proposed that four tenderers be excluded: three of them bid for lot 3 (roads to the south of the tunnel) and one bid for lot 2 (the tunnel). As the stage of evaluation has not ended yet, by the end of the reporting period the findings and proposals from the minutes have not been officially endorsed in a decision of the contracting authority.

 

Parallel to the monitoring of the procurement procedure for the design and construction, the team of Transparency International Bulgaria followed a related public procurement procedure, namely for the selection of a consultant on the construction supervision. Although formally this does not fall within the scope of the Integrity Pact, the procedure is immediately related to the monitored public procurement procedure.

 

The procedure was launched on 29 March 2018, and the deadline for submitting tenders was mid-May. Several days before the deadline expired, the Public Procurement Agency suspended the procedure because of a complaint filed with the Commission for Protection of Competition. In the beginning of June, the complaint was dismissed by the regulator and the contracting authority set a new deadline for submitting tenders, 2 July 2018.

 

Transparency International Bulgaria continued actively its efforts to improve the interaction with the Road Infrastructure Agency. A total of eight meetings were held in the first six months of 2018 with representatives of the Agency who were involved in the Zheleznitsa project. Some meetings were attended also by the management of the contracting authority. In addition to the exchange of information on the ongoing procedure, within the limits of the law, we also verified two monitoring reports, on the first and second public procurement procedures. The reports are accessible in both English and Bulgarian language at the website of the project, section “Publications”: http://integrity.transparency.bg/.

 

In May 2018 the team of Transparency International Bulgaria took part in a meeting of the project partners held in Budapest, Hungary. Together with the coordinator Transparency International Secretariat and 16 other organisations we discussed the challenges that the civil society faces. The meeting supported the exchange of ideas and working solutions between the partners in identical situations in the work with contracting authorities, the private sector and civil society.

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