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What is a public tender?


What is a public tender?

A public tender - also known as a public bidding process - is the process by which the Public Administration (national, regional or local) contracts goods, services or works from a private company to meet a need that they cannot meet themselves.

It is important to note that this type of call does not exclude any company on the basis of its size or economic capacity, as long as it meets the requirements and successfully passes the selection process under the legal framework of the Law 9/2017, of 8 November, on Public Sector Procurement.

Let's look at an example:

  • Local public sector: The town hall of Mijas, a municipality in the province of Malaga, is going to hold an event called "Mercado Estival La Cala" and needs to set up three tents for businesses. To do so, they open a call for tenders and the companies present their offers. Finally, they select those with the most points based on the requirements demanded in the specifications.

Phases of a public tender

As we have mentioned, the selection process is regulated by the Law 9/2017, of 8 November, on Public Sector Procurement. This covers, inter alia, the three types of tendering procedure (depending on their subject matter, the legal regime under Community law and the legal regime under administrative law), and guarantees the transparency of the procedure.

Thus, the law states that the Public Administration must require the following basic documents and requirements from private organisations:

  • First of all, the company interested in submitting its bid must submit the application together with the required completed documentation. This information will be available in the tender documents before, during and after the tender.
  • Similarly, the company must present its CIF, the deeds of incorporation, the sector in which it operates, its registration in the IAE, the data corresponding to its economic solvency and the certificates of payments to the Social Security and Tax Authorities.

The four phases of the public tender

The procedure is similar to an auction in that interested companies must "compete", on equal terms, for the vacant seat. During this process we can distinguish the following phases:

  1. Preparation:

This first phase is directly related to the transparency requirements discussed above. Therefore, the administration responsible for the public tender must present and publish the call for tender together with its specifications (technical specifications) and conditions (administrative specifications).

  1. Announcement:

Once the public tender has been submitted, the information and documents will be published on the official platforms of the administration (portals, bulletins, websites and other advertising or communication channels).

In this way, it will be available and accessible to everyone.

  1. Submission of proposals.

This phase will generally be time-limited as indicated by the administration. 

  1. Selection:

The administration evaluates the different bids and scores them on the basis of the criteria explained in the tender documents. The bid with the highest score is chosen by the so-called "contracting board".

Where can public tenders be consulted?

In Spain there are three levels in the public sector and each of them includes, among others, the different public tenders in the country.

  1. The state public sector
  2. The autonomous public sector
  3. The local public sector

To consult the active public tenders, you must go to the Public Sector Procurement Platform. However, we should add that not all competitions are displayed on this portal, so it is recommended to check the following channels as well:

You can consult the inventory of public sector entities here.

For more information, contact us.


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