In accordance with the general governmental policy to establish transparency and effectiveness during public procurement procedures, the Ministry of Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping implemented -initially on a pilot and already on a permanent basis- an operational plan for a single national system to monitor public procurement and provide legal and technical advisory support to national contracting authorities.
Therefore, on 01.01.1997 it proceeded to the establishment of the Public Procurement Monitoring Unit, which is housed in the facilities of the Centre of International and European Economic Law in Thessaloniki. The Unit‘s operation is regulated today by three circulars (521/08.01.97, 10543/31.03.97 and 5527/11.02.99), which determine the rights and obligations of contracting authorities towards the Unit.
This initiative, undertaken by the Ministry of Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping, came to cover an important void, i.e. the absence of coordinated advisory support to national contracting authorities from an established institution in all phases of awarding public works and services contracts. Indeed, the Unit’s foundation on 1997 was an innovation not only at national but also at community level and a guide for similar initiatives in other EU member states.
The Unit collaborates today with other EU member states in the framework of European Programmes as well as with competent european authorities towards the consolidation of single rules on the interpretation and implementation of public procurement community law, while for a long period professor Vassilios Skouris, President of the Court of Justice of the European Union, represented the Unit in the Advisory Committee for the Opening-Up of Public Procurement (ACOPP).
In almost all invitations to tender monitored from 1997 up till today there were errors and omissions located. Preventive monitoring of legality often helped to avoid entanglements and save precious time for greek contracting authorities, while repressive monitoring also proved useful, since it lead to repetitions of invitations to tender and helped to avoid complaints to competent EU authorities at the award stage. Even today, of course, there are still cases of repeated stereotyped errors or of arbitrariness by certain contracting authorities despite the Unit’s remarks. In general, however, the Unit collaborates harmoniously with greek authorities. The continuously increasing acceptance of the Unit’s observations and the increased number of authorities that receive its advices prove this progress.