CPV codes – the classification tool
Bidders have always faced great difficulties in finding the right tender for the products they offer. Therefore, the European Commission created the so-called CPV codes in 1993.
Behind the cryptic term “CPV code” is the English term “Common Procurement Vocabulary code”. This vocabulary was last revised in 2008. A new revision of the CPV codes has been announced, but has so far been a long time coming.
The CPV code is intended to classify supplies and services as accurately as possible. The goal here is to receive more bids in award procedures by making it easier for bidders to find tenders that suit them. In the case of tenders in the upper threshold range, at least one CPV code must be specified in the award notice. So much for the theory.
The crux with the CPV codes
Anyone who has already conducted an EU-wide tender has probably found that assigning the subject of the tender to a CPV code is a difficult undertaking. For example, there are not always matching CPV codes, or in other cases their designations are foreign to everyday use. Therefore, one may rightly wonder that in this day and age, for example, CPV codes under with the term “notebook” or “laptop” do not exist. For this purpose, the common vocabulary provides only for “portable computer” under CPV code 30213100-6. In practice, this makes it more difficult for potential bidders to participate in the tendering procedure, because they may not be able to find suitable tenders at all, or only with difficulty.
Also, in the past, awarding chambers were allowed to deal with the inaccurate or wrong CPV code indication by the contracting authority. In this regard, the decisions of the public procurement tribunals referred to the European Commission’s “Guide to the Common Procurement Vocabulary (CPV)”, according to which contracting authorities should use it to try to determine a code that corresponds as closely as possible to the need. In practice, this means that the contracting authority cannot be required to specify the exact CPV code. However, it should be clear to every contracting authority that poor findability of tenders cannot be in its own interest.
As long as the fundamental revision of the CPV code catalog is pending, it is recommended that the choice of CPV codes be made very thoroughly with the help of appropriate CPV code search engines in order to appeal to as many bidders as possible.
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