The European Commission is setting an example by making its software for electronic procurement available as open source, said Michel Barnier, the European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, at the 1st Annual Conference on eProcurement that took place in Brussels, on 26 June 2012. This includes Open e-Prior and the Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line (PEPPOL), both available on Joinup, EC's open source repository.
The Commissioner gave a speech at the end of the conference saying that modernising procurement should include simplification of the rules and lowering of the threshold for small and medium-sized businesses.
He expects that electronic procurement will do more than improve competition. "It will help to make government more efficient. It also improves integrity and traceability of the process, and that deters corruption, which we all know often happens in public procurement." He added that technology by itself will not transform government. "Change requires courage and political will. But technology is one of the tools for change."
The conference showcased several examples of electronic procurement tools. One of these, the German XVergabe suite of procurement tools developed by the Procurement Agency of the German Federal Ministry of Interior, will gradually be made available as open source, as said the IT project leader Marc Christopher Schmidt: "We want to offer enterprises the freedom to choose."
Scott Bell, head of Scotland's department for Procurement Policy and Systems, explained that their system was designed to be platform-independent: "It should work in any web browser."
In a press release published on 20 April 2012, the EC states that only 5 to 10 % of procurement is done electronically. Yet, eProcurement helps public entities save between 5 and 20 % of their procurement expenditure. "The total size of the EU's procurement market is estimated to be more than €2 trillion, so each 5 % saved could result in about €100 billion of savings per year."
The Commissioner also added that "eProcurement should become the rule, not the exception. That's why the European Parliament and the Council are considering a reform bill that should make eProcurement the standard, throughout the EU, by mid-2016."