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Blog post: Verkiezingen 2021 - Wat hebben de politieke partijen in petto op het gebied van aanbesteden?

Elections 2021 - What plans do the political parties have in the area of tendering?

The 2021 elections are just around the corner and the campaigns during the Corona crisis are in full swing. What is actually written about tendering in the election programmes of political parties? We have taken the relevant issues from the various election programmes and written our own reflections. Enjoy the reading.

What do we notice?

Before we look at the content of the 2021-2025 election programmes of the Dutch political parties, we will first give our findings. A number of themes stood out to us, including SME-friendly tendering, quality over price and transformation in healthcare. 

SME-friendly procurement

The CDA writes that they want to increase the knowledge of government purchasers so that they pay more attention to the interests and opportunities of their own small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) when tendering. GroenLinks calls the SMEs the job champions of the Netherlands and wants to ensure a level playing field for SMEs vis-à-vis large companies. The SP, too, says that SMEs are extremely important to our economy and wants to help local entrepreneurs by making tenders ‘SME-friendly’ from now on. The ChristenUnie party also indicates that it wants to give SMEs more opportunities in government tenders and even states that all paperwork should be kept to a minimum, contracts should be clustered as little as possible, award criteria should not be unnecessarily heavy and that it is desirable for European procurement standards to become less rigid. We hardly come across anything about digitalisation and automation of tenders. Of course, Brainial is happy to help SMEs to spend less time on answering tenders!

Quality over price

It struck us that only a few parties literally write about quality over price. The Labour Party (PvdA) writes that the current tendering rules are based on neo-liberal market thinking. The PvdA argues that the focus is currently not on quality but on costs. This should be reversed, with the quality of the work taking centre stage. The ChristenUnie party also goes into this subject at some length, writing in particular about tendering for care and suggesting a tendering moratorium. They want the tendering of care not to be at the expense of long-term (care) relationships and thus the quality of the care and welfare provided. The ChristenUnie wants to abolish the European obligation to choose the most economically advantageous tender. 

Transformation in healthcare

In the previous section, we described how the Christian Union wants to deal differently with the contracting of care. There are many party programmes that elaborate on this. The CDA writes that healthcare is not a market but a people’s business, in which the patient’s interests always come first. They opt for less market forces and want to get rid of complicated tenders, wrong financial incentives, production targets and profit distributions. D66 argues that municipalities do not need to contract out care. GroenLinks wants healthcare professionals to have more say and the right to co-decision. The SP writes that entrepreneurs who strive for profit should not be given a chance in the care sector and wants to put an end to tenders in the care sector and municipal care tasks. The PvdA wants an end to the compulsory tendering of home care and youth care. The ChristenUnie wants tenders and offers of care to be judged not only on the basis of the lowest price offered, but also on criteria such as sustainability, social aspects, the provision of day care, meeting places, welfare activities and the like. The FvD also wants quality to be rewarded again. The FvD wants more room for treatment of good performance and that the influence of the health insurance company through selective buying of care is ended.

Read on to see what the election programmes of the political parties say about tendering.

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Let’s go and see what the election programmes of the political parties say about tendering. This is what VVD, PVV, CDA, D66, GroenLinks, SP, PvdA, ChristenUnie, Partij voor de Dieren, 50PLUS, DENK, SGP and FVD say in their election programmes.

VVD

International trade. Dutch exports make up one-third of our economy. As a result of the Corona crisis, world trade has been dealt a severe blow. Even before that, it became more difficult to engage in (fair) trade, as countries more often opted for protectionism or abused international agreements. For example, Chinese companies gain a foothold in Europe with state support, but meanwhile Beijing protects its own market from public tenders, preventing Dutch entrepreneurs from selling their products or services there. In recent years, therefore, work has been done at European level on an investment test to protect strategic sectors, on legislation to protect entrepreneurs against unfair competition and on increasing shipping rates for Chinese web shops to protect Dutch retailers against unfair competition and counterfeit products. This is still not enough to redress the imbalance.

In the coming years we will focus on:

  • International Trade. A free market based on reciprocity. Within the EU, companies from outside can only do business unhindered if our companies can also do business in their own countries. Foreign companies that receive state aid must be disadvantaged or excluded from tenders. The same applies to European suppliers who are cheap because they work with cheap Asian suppliers who receive State aid.
  • Lower energy bills. Reducing the price of energy from heat networks by licensing them for a certain period through a tender. This creates competition and lowers the price of energy. The maximum rate that heat suppliers may charge consists of the actual costs plus a reasonable return. In order to increase support for the heat transition, efforts will be made, as in the case of wind parks and solar meadows, to get citizens to participate in a heat system. These measures will lead to a lower price for heat.
  • Public transport. More public transport providers through public tenders. This way, travellers get more and better public transport. 
  • Defence. Strengthening Dutch industry by freeing up extra money for research and development of innovative products that contribute to our national security and economy, for example in the procurement of naval ships. We should also call on national security more often to deviate from European procurement rules and stimulate our own knowledge industry, for instance in the procurement of naval vessels and innovative products of defence companies in the SME sector. 

The complete election programme of the VVD.

PVV

We have found nothing about tendering in the election programme of the PVV

CDA

Healthcare is not a market, it is a people business. The patient’s interests always come first. That is why we opt for less market involvement and more cooperation as the basis for care. We want to get rid of complicated tendering procedures, wrong financial incentives and production targets that only lead to unnecessary treatments. Profit distributions are not part of this either. Healthcare providers must focus on sensible care and the earning models that go with it, instead of being driven by production. If it turns out that healthcare providers are primarily driven by production, they must intervene, for example by employing medical specialists. We improve the risk equalization model so that health insurers who only recruit healthy insureds can no longer make a profit on this.

We want to anchor the social enterprise by law as a distinct legal form for non-profit social initiatives. A legal basis regulates the structure and control of stakeholders and makes it possible to give priority to social enterprises in public tenders. We cherish the association and similar legal forms as a source of social initiative for branches, professions and voluntary activities. We ensure that even smaller associations have a right to exist and can attract enough directors.

We want European tendering rules to be relaxed, so that investments with taxpayers’ money preferably benefit companies in the Netherlands or Europe. We increase the knowledge of government purchasers so that they take more account of the interests and opportunities of their own SMEs when tendering. The investment funds InvestNL and InvestInternational will be opened up to small and medium-sized enterprises and promising start-ups and scale-ups. 

Climate policy must go hand in hand with an industrial policy that ensures a level playing field for companies in our country and in the European and world markets. Where necessary, tendering and competition rules will be adjusted without losing sight of the interests of SMEs, and state aid rules will also be applied to companies from outside Europe. 

The complete election programme of the CDA.

D66

The government will include circular principles in all its tenders in construction and infrastructure from 2023.

Every political decision on the physical living environment, whether it concerns housing, mobility, agriculture or industry, must be tested against the objective of being climate neutral and circular by 2050. That is why we are pushing for green public tendering procedures. For all its expenditure, the government must assess the impact on the climate and the environment and take action to reduce that impact.

We strengthen the position of transport authorities in tenders. They should not only look at the costs, but also at better connections between buses and trains.

In the short term, we reserve space for wind at sea and reduce spatial restrictions. The government will help pay for the connection of wind farms and the transport of electricity. The grid manager TenneT will be given the opportunity to invest in this before the final tendering procedure. This will prevent delays in the implementation. Investors in wind farms will also contribute to the creation of nature at sea, such as oyster beds.

We build on the lessons of the corona crisis and speed up government decision-making procedures without sacrificing sustainability and quality. For example, when granting permits or tendering. Fewer people at the table, more expertise. Companies can therefore get to work faster.

Wherever possible, companies with international supply chains that want to be considered for government support or public tenders should comply with the OECD Guidelines for International Business.

Social entrepreneurs must be able to participate easily in tenders. Social added value will be given a more prominent role in the Public Procurement Act.

The government is actively working on a ‘true price’ scan for its own policies. The government is going to green its budgeting, making transparent the full social costs and impact of the budget on the broad welfare. When making purchases and tenders, the government will pay more attention to available true prices that also take into account the social effects.

The usefulness of competition and tendering is carefully weighed against the potential cost and quality benefits of having a service performed by a single party.

We use the purchasing power of the government to stimulate circular innovation. Some organisations, such as the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management, have already had good experiences with this. We want municipalities and their subsidiaries, provinces, water boards and the State to structurally apply circular principles in all tenders for physical products. In doing so, we are adapting the Dutch Procurement Act to focus more strongly on the realisation of social objectives when spending public money.

We often see that tenders for municipal care mainly result in an administrative burden and have little added value. In those cases, D66 wants municipalities to avoid the need for tenders. This may require adaptation of European rules.

We are committed to an international tendering instrument, in which the exclusion of companies from third countries is possible if there is no reciprocity for European companies.

The complete election programme of D66.

GroenLinks

Small and medium-sized enterprises are the job champions of the Netherlands. With their local and regional involvement, these hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs play an indispensable economic and social role in society. With support and incentives for green and social entrepreneurship, help with digitalisation, SME-friendly government tenders and facilitating European cooperation in border regions, we are ensuring that small and medium-sized enterprises can continue to play this role even after the coronary crisis. We are ensuring a level playing field for small and medium-sized enterprises in comparison to large companies.

We are reducing income tax for low- and middle-income earners. Top earners and expats will pay more income tax. For employers, there will be a new CEO tax that will discourage supervisory boards from paying high salaries and bonuses to their boards. Companies where the salary of the highest paid employee is not more than ten times higher than the lowest paid employee will be stimulated, for instance through priority in tenders. 

Small entrepreneurs are supported in the continued payment of long-term sick employees and we give entrepreneurs more room to offer permanent contracts by extending the duration of tenders and government subsidies.

Companies play a key role in the transition to an inclusive and sustainable society. That is why companies are being given a legal duty to behave in a socially responsible way and the opportunity to lay down their social mission in their articles of association. In this way, they can also better protect themselves against takeovers by ‘grasshopper funds’ that are only interested in quick profits. Companies that already make social and sustainable efforts will be given priority in tenders.

Companies convicted of discrimination are excluded from public tenders for a considerable period of time and face heavy fines. Companies and institutions that receive discriminatory requests will be obliged to report this. There will be a programme to accelerate the recruitment and advancement of women, people with a migrant background, LGBTQ+ people and people with disabilities in business and (semi-)public organisations.

We give professionals in education, care and the police the right to participate in decision-making. They will have more say in important decisions, such as mergers, tenders and reorganisations.

The complete election programme of GroenLinks.

SP

Entrepreneurs who strive for profit no longer have a chance in health care. We want to put an end to tendering, including for municipal care tasks. Profit-sharing will be banned in all health care services and directors may no longer have financial interests in the companies hired by their own health care institution. We will stop the greed. Healthcare managers and consultants are not allowed to earn more than the prime minister.

Small and medium-sized enterprises are extremely important for our economy. Local entrepreneurs will be helped, for instance, by making tenders SME-friendly from now on, better rental protection for premises and support during employee sickness. A national SME investment bank will make it easier for small and starting businesses to borrow and will promote sustainable innovation.

The complete election programme of SP.

PvdA

In tenders, it is not the cost price but the quality of the work that is central. The current competition and tendering rules are written on the basis of a sacred belief in neo-liberal market thinking. This reduces citizens to consumers. Those with the most economic power often draw the longest straw. The focus is not on quality but on costs. This must change. We want to change the European tendering and competition rules so that people and the planet are the focus of attention and not the market. Good working conditions and sustainability requirements are also taken into account.

Social and green entrepreneurship is becoming the norm. Companies are establishing their social mission (“raison d’etre”). If they help people and the planet and make a profit in the process, they will receive extra help and protection. Companies that make a profit at the expense of people and the planet have no right to exist. Social and green entrepreneurs are given priority in government tenders.

End of compulsory tendering for home care and youth care. Too often, municipalities still choose parties on the basis of the lowest price. This is at the expense of the knowledge, experience and expertise needed to provide the best care. Every client can call on an independent client supporter to give him or her the best chance of exercising personal control. Core teams of professionals will be formed who, together with volunteers and informal carers, are responsible for providing good care to elderly people and people with disabilities.

Privacy is taken into account in tenders and subsidies. The government stimulates the use of privacy-respecting software and hardware by including privacy in tenders and subsidies.

The complete election programme of the PvdA.

ChristenUnie

Tendering moratorium. Tendering for care must not be at the expense of sustainable (care) relationships and thus the quality of the care and welfare provided. We want to get rid of the European obligation to choose the most economically advantageous tender by means of tenders. Municipalities will be given as much leeway as possible to organise services under the Wmo with a limited number of providers who are jointly responsible for collective functions, such as a neighbourhood restaurant, meeting places, day care and welfare activities. If the quality is satisfactory, it should be possible to extend the contract instead of retendering. The users also have a say in this.

Tendering on the basis of sustainable assistance. If we are still obliged to tender on a European basis, the following applies. Tendering and offers of care are not only assessed on the basis of the lowest price offered, but in the application the care seeker indicates that criteria such as sustainability, social aspects, the organisation of day care, meeting, welfare activities and the like are to be taken into consideration. The way in which these are honoured leads to the Best Price-Quality ratio.

Procurement of fair labour. All governments shall organise their purchasing and tendering procedures in such a way as to guarantee good working conditions and promote the employment of people with disabilities.

SME-friendly procurement. In order to give SMEs more opportunities in public procurement, all authorities should ensure that the paperwork is kept to a minimum, that contracts are clustered as little as possible and that the award requirements are not unnecessarily onerous. In order to tender in an SME-friendly manner, it is desirable that European tender standards become less rigid. It is also of great importance that governments, starting with the State, do not go for the cheapest offer, but for the best quality offer.

Binding companies to standards. The starting point is that companies using state aid must subscribe to and comply with the OECD standards on international corporate social responsibility. Companies can be excluded from government support and tenders if they do not take action to prevent human rights violations, such as child labour and forced labour, in the production chain.

Emergency concessions. Due to the corona crisis and uncertain passenger forecasts, tendering for new public transport concessions is risky in the short term and less attractive to transport companies. If necessary, opportunities to postpone tendering for public transport concessions will be expanded. Emergency concessions will be used for the interim period.

The complete election programme of the ChristenUnie.

Partij voor de Dieren

All policies, in whatever field, are tested for their impact on sustainability, animal welfare and human rights. The government sets a good example. The purchase of all products and tenders will be 100% sustainable and fair trade by 2030. This also applies to organisations that have ties with the government: grid operators, drinking water companies, port companies, airports, independent administrative organisations and all public bodies, such as the state, provinces, municipalities, water boards and companies that receive subsidies or tax benefits.

Building materials are produced in the most environmentally and climate-friendly way possible, and when tendering we choose the least harmful materials.

The complete election programme of the Partij voor de Dieren.

50Plus

There will be a central European purchasing policy for expensive and rare medicines and vaccinations.

The complete election programme of 50Plus.

DENK

We have found nothing about tendering in the election programme of DENK.

SGP

Governments actively use the possibilities of conditions in tenders to ensure the employment of workers with disabilities.

All public authorities organise their purchasing and contracting procedures in such a way as to ensure good working conditions.

Without innovation, we will not make it. The government should put more effort into innovative competitions and tenders.

When tendering for public transport concessions, companies should be challenged to provide space for new mobility services. All transport concessions must become MaaS (Mobility as a Service) worthy, so that mobility service providers can also sell train and bus journeys. Standardisation is needed for the application of MaaS, so that you do not need a separate app for each carrier. The government encourages cooperation and good agreements, including on quality requirements and data sharing.

People with disabilities must also be able to rely on public transport as much as possible. The Public Transport Accessibility Decree is unclear and needs to be tightened up. Representatives of the interests of people with disabilities must be given a say in tenders. 

The national knowledge-sensitive industry should be given priority in tender policy.

European tendering should be avoided for large public contracts that affect national security.

The complete election programme of SGP.

FvD

Hospital Care. Quality becomes worthwhile again. More room for treatment of good performance, ending the influence of the health insurer through selective healthcare purchasing.

The complete election programme of FVD.

Author: Fedor Klinkenberg is the co-founder and chief executive officer at Brainial. He leads the company’s and overall commercial strategy and teams. Fedor has over 11 years experience working at one of the fastest growing tech companies in the Netherlands: Mendix. Fedor holds a Master of Science degree from RSM Erasmus University Rotterdam.