Publication of information on Contracts Finder about contracts awarded under Reg. 112 Public Contracts Regulations 2015

Reg.112 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCR2015) imposes obligations to publish information on Contracts Finder about the award of contracts below EU thresholds. Such obligation is triggered every time a public contract is awarded [reg.112(1)], which imposes an ex post transparency obligation for contracts not exempted under reg.109, even if no ex ante transparency was required by reg.110 PCR2015.

The content of the publication obligation is functionally equivalent to the obligation under reg.108 PCR2015 for contracts above EU thesholds and, consequently, it does not deserve further comments (Pedro concurs), except for the fact that the publication needs to specify whether the contractor is an SME or VCSE, that is a non-governmental organisation that is value-driven and which principally reinvests its surpluses to further social, environmental or cultural objectives. 

If nothing else, this will provide a wealth of data to assess to what extent public contracts are actually channeled through these preferred organisations. However, the sole thought that fundamental details of every single contract, including the contractor's name, will be made available online is quite scary, particularly in sectors with oligopolistic structure. Hence, once more, it is worth stressing that contracting authorities need to be very careful and manage information. 

Reg. 112(3) allows them to do so by allowing exceptions to the obligation to publish where where release of certain information would impede law enforcement or would otherwise be contrary to the public interest, would prejudice the legitimate commercial interests of a particular economic operator, whether public or private, or might prejudice fair competition between economic operators [for discussion, see A Sanchez Graells, "The Difficult Balance between Transparency and Competition in Public Procurement: Some Recent Trends in the Case Law of the European Courts and a Look at the New Directives" (November 2013) University of Leicester School of Law Research Paper No. 13-11].