What is a tender?
A tender (aanbesteding) is a way of purchasing used by government organisations. Or by an organisation that performs tasks for the government, such as a school or a security region. The organisation announces that it wants a contract to be carried out by a company. For example:
- to sell products, such as office supplies or solar panels
- to provide services, such as a communication assignment or market research
- to carry out work, such as building a bridge
Read more about the Procurement Act and which public authorities have to tender contracts.
What is a contracting authority?
A government organisation that must comply with the Procurement Act is also known as a contracting authority.
Tendering is a fair way to manage public procurement. It gives all interested parties an equal chance to carry out an assignment. By tendering contracts, the government also ensures that there is competition between companies.
To ensure that tenders are fair, contracting authorities must follow established procurement procedures and rules. This means, for example, that certain choices made by a contracting authority must be explained (transparency). For example, why a business does or does not get a contract.
PIANOo Dutch Public Procurement Expertise Centre
Visit PIANOo.nl for more information on government procurement through a tender procedure. PIANOo stands for Professioneel en Innovatief Aanbesteden, Netwerk voor Overheidsopdrachtgevers (Professional and Innovative Tendering, Network for Government Contracting Authorities). It is the official Procurement Expertise Centre of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK) and provides advice to government parties.
Finding government tenders
Tenders and their conditions for participation are published online. Which procurement platform is used depends on the assignment:
Participate in a tender
Through the tender platform, you can view tender documents, respond with questions, and submit a tender.
The tender documents state:
- what exactly is the assignment
- the steps of the tendering procedure (in Dutch)
- the conditions for selection (in Dutch) and award (in Dutch)
- the available budget, plan, and closing date
You can download and read the tender documents. You are not obliged to apply.
Checklist for submitting public tenders
Want to know exactly what steps you need to take to participate in a tender? Check out the checklist for participating in a national or European tender.
Participate in a tender with another party
Do you not meet the requirements to perform an assignment? For example, because you only have experience with part of the work. See if you can participate together with one or more businesses. For example, you can ask other businesses to join you as subcontractors. You can also submit a tender jointly with other entrepreneurs. This is called a combination formation.
Rules for collaborative tendering agreements
There are rules for participating in tenders together. For example, you may not agree on price levels. Or participate together in a tender if it is not necessary. The Netherlands Authority for Consumer & Markets (ACM) monitors this.
National and European tenders
Government tenders are tendered according to national or European rules. This depends on the estimated value of a contract (in Dutch). If an assignment exceeds a certain value, the assignment will be put out to tender at the European level. This value is called the threshold amount (in Dutch). Threshold amounts are redetermined every 2 years by the European Union.
A value above or equal to the EU threshold amount
Is the estimated value of the contract higher than or equal to the EU threshold amount? Then the government organisation follows a European tendering procedure (in Dutch). European tendering procedures must always be published on TenderNed.
A value lower than the EU threshold amount
Is the estimated value of a contract lower than the European threshold amount? Then the national rules for procurement procedures (in Dutch) apply. The rules for procurement below the EU threshold amounts give the contracting authority a bit more freedom to make choices. Public authorities may publish contracts on TenderNed or a commercial platform. Businesses may then also be invited to participate by email.
A contracting authority typically describes in its procurement policy how contracts below the EU threshold are tendered.
The procurement policy states when:
- a contract may be offered to one company (single private procedure)
- multiple companies may be invited (multiple private procedure)
- an assignment must be publicly announced