The Tenders Review Authority (TRA) said on Monday that it finds in favour of the majority of appeals lodged before it, suggesting that public contracting authorities often make errors because they lack expertise in drafting calls for tender.
The TRA’s head Efi Papadopoulou told lawmakers that so far this year, out of 35 appeals filed, 14 succeeded, five were rejected, three were withdrawn and 13 are still pending.
She was speaking in parliament, reviewing the TRA’s proposed budget for 2023.
According to the official, the biggest problem facing contracting authorities is the lack of adequately trained staff. Because staff are often unable to properly handle calls for tender – which can be complex documents – this makes it easy for bidders who lost out on a contract to subsequently identify errors and challenge the award decision.
Papadopoulou cited some examples of mistakes – such as staff at contracting authorities not properly signing declarations, or failing to disclose the reason behind the absence of the members of the team evaluating a submitted tender.
MPs queried Papadopoulou over the apparent delays in projects awarded through public contracts. Some legislators suggested this was due to frivolous appeals deliberately filed to tie down the process.
Papadopoulou said any delays cannot be attributed to the TRA itself, which processes and issues judgements on appeals quite rapidly.
Under EU law, she noted, the Republic of Cyprus is obliged to review appeals against decisions awarding public contracts.
“It’s very difficult to determine whether an appeal is deliberate. This cannot be gauged unless and until the file is opened.”
MPs also asked Papadopoulou whether the TRA is considering increasing the fee it charges for processing appeals – and whether that could act as a deterrent to frivolous appeals.
The official said the fees charged by the TRA are already quite steep. For instance, for cases involving contracts of up to €1 million, the TRA charges €4,000 – whereas by comparison the administrative court fees are around €300.
Regarding the TRA’s balance sheet for 2023, expenditures stand at €650,000 and projected revenues at €400,000.