Resolution of the Council of Ministers no. 36/2003, of 12 of March

Presidência do Conselho de Ministros (Council of Ministers' Presidency)

Resolution of the Council of Ministers

The Program of the XV Constitutional Government stresses the need for the contribution of the Information and Knowledge Society towards an increasing competitiveness of the Portuguese economy, the improvement of the quality of public services offered to citizens, the modernization of the Public Administration and the reduction of the respective operating costs.

These objectives are in line with the purposes established for the e-Europe European initiative: An Information Society for all – «to provide a favourable environment for private investment and for the creation of new jobs, to boost productivity, to modernise public services, and to give everyone the opportunity to participate in the global information society».

This European initiative defines the standardization of the electronic purchasing of goods and services as an important element of these objectives, namely in the scope of the promotion of on-line public services. To this end, the eEurope 2002 and eEurope 2005 Action Plans provide that Member States shall conclude a significant part of public contracts through electronic means.

This guideline emerges from the increasing awareness that the use of information technologies and of electronic purchasing methods concerning goods and services:

- results in considerable efficiency gains and significant savings for the machinery of the State whilst facilitating the tasks of civil servants;
- makes an important contribution to increasing the effectiveness of the purchasing process and thus to the quality of service rendered to enterprises and citizens;
- significantly increases  the transparency of the public purchases of the State;
- stimulates demand structuring and, simultaneously, establishes conditions for a equal treatment of potential suppliers;
- extends the public purchases market to the great majority of the enterprises, namely to the SME;
- fosters economic opportunities for technological enterprises;
- promotes the competitiveness and productivity in the economy as a whole and particularly in the enterprises belonging to the system.

This wide range of benefits and the increasing level of global economic competitiveness between enterprises turn the development and the standardisation of electronic procedures for the purchase of goods and services into a fundamental element for the competitiveness of national enterprises and economy, as well as to the modernization of the State machinery.

The Government takes the view that it is necessary to speed up the adoption of electronic procedures concerning the public purchasing proceedings and the Portuguese business structure, having regard to the importance of the issue and national delay compared to other Member States which have already defined a national strategy and have pursued or are currently pursuing relevant pilot projects. This delay shall be made increasingly clear when the preparatory work developed in other countries begins to bear fruit, which shall place such countries at a cumulative competitive advantage.

The Government is therefore of the opinion that, notwithstanding the fact that the driving force role as regards the information society, and namely, electronic commerce, is played by the private sector and to the market forces, it is incumbent upon the State to take a leading role, in order to promote a favourable environment towards the mobilization of private investment and of the competencies of the Portuguese people, so that they adopt electronic proceedings in the management of the purchase chain, for the competitiveness of enterprises and the well-being of citizens. Thus the State must cover primarily the following measures:

- to be in the forefront, for example, of the process of adoption of electronic purchases, through the implementation of a strategy of electronic public purchasing;
- to promote the trust of citizens and organizations concerning mechanisms for electronic contracts;
- to make use of the necessary means to raise awareness, train and support as regards enterprises and citizens, in the context of the adoption of electronic contract devices;
- to ensure a technological infrastructure that supports national needs, namely through the launching of a national portal for electronic purchases;
- to strengthen the market by promoting the quality of offer of the support services for electronic purchasing;
- to ensure the update of the necessary legal framework for the development of electronic purchasing.

Given the national relevance and the acknowledged implementation complexity of electronic means not only for public purchasing processes but also regarding enterprises, it is necessary to define a national strategy for electronic purchasing that may induce an integrated set of decisive measures towards accelerating the development and standardization of electronic procedures as far as the purchasing process is concerned.

A massive and prompt transition from the current system of physical purchasing to an electronic purchasing system is deemed to be unrealistic; thus such transition shall be achieved gradually, as has been the case in countries more advanced in this issue (United Kingdom, Australia, Denmark and United States of America).

Without prejudice to the need to further refine the legal standards applied in this area, the Government takes the view that the current legal framework, established namely by Decree-Laws nos. 104/2002 of 12 April, 197/99 of 8 June and 290-D/99 of 2 August, provides public bodies and enterprises with the possibility of concluding contracts regarding goods and services, through electronic means.


Pursuant to point g) of article 199 of the Constitution, the Council of Ministers hereby resolves:

1 – To assign the Knowledge and Innovation Mission Unit, established by the Resolution of the Council of Ministers n. º 135/2002 of 20 November, in close collaboration with the Office of the Minister Assistant to the Prime Minister, the Ministries for Finance, for the Economy, for Health and for Social Security and Work, the general-secretariats of the several ministries, the Directorate General of Patrimony and further competent entities, the task of devising specific policies and coordinating the necessary action for the standardization of the electronic commerce practice in the course of the purchasing procedures of the Portuguese Public Administration.

2 - To determine that the Knowledge and Innovation Mission Unit shall establish a national action plan concerning electronic purchasing, which shall:

a) be submitted to the Government within 90 days from the publication of this resolution;
b) be established with the wide participation of the private sector and the main actors of the sector;
c) have regard to the installed technological capacity and the organisational preparation of the business structure and the Public Administration;
d) be monitored by a stocktaking of ongoing initiatives in the Public Administration,  with the integration thereof in the strategy as effectively as possible;
e) to define a national overview, the strategic aims and priorities, the specific goals to be met and the implementation schedule thereof, as well as an economic and financial analysis of the profits and savings generated to the Public Administration through the implementation of the action plan, and also the structuring technological options and the coordination and implementation organization thereof;
f) to define ways to reserve a percentage of the generated savings for projects in the information society area, pursuant to the law in force or, where appropriate, to propose in good time legal initiatives which so provide for.

3 – To establish that the action plan shall integrate specific development stages, at the end of which the implementation accomplished so far shall be assessed and the strategy previously defined shall be updated, taking into account that the transition from the system of physical purchasing to an electronic purchasing system must be achieved gradually.

4 – To assign the Knowledge and Innovation Mission Unit the following tasks:

a) to design and implement a national portal for electronic purchases, which shall not operate as a single purchasing agency, but as an instrument that facilitates the access to the public purchases market;
b) to record the areas and action sectors of the State which shall most benefit from the adoption of these electronic procedures;
c) to coordinate the management of pilot projects to be defined within the Public Administration;
d) to propose, in close collaboration with the Ministry for the Economy, an incentive system for the SME;
e) to propose, in close collaboration with the Ministry for Finance, a competencies development plan on purchasing procedures through electronic means, clearly structuring therein the necessary action regarding the monitoring and requalification of the Public Administration human resources as well as the successful transition from the system of physical purchasing to an electronic purchasing system;
f) to guarantee the integration with the systems of financial and asset information developed within the Ministry for Finance, as well as the integration with the Treasury payment scheme;
g) to design and manage a public-private forum for the promotion of electronic purchasing;
h) to create support guides for enterprises and the Public Administration on the strategy, processes and procedures to be adopted as regards electronic purchasing;
i) to produce, publicize and permanently update a list of the best national and international practices;
j) to design and implement, in collaboration with several public and private bodies, an awareness and communication plan on electronic purchasing;
l) to design and implement a management reference model for the electronic public purchasing process;
m) to propose suggestions, in collaboration with the Ministry for Justice, as to how to improve the legal framework applicable to the effective operation of the present issue, including a specific standard on handling of disputes, having regard to the need to bring the legal framework into line with the current and draft Community Law rules.

5 - To assign the Knowledge and Innovation Mission Unit the task of reporting to the Minister Assistant to the Prime Minister every three months on the definition, update and implementation of the national action plan for electronic purchasing.

Presidency of the Council of Ministers, 20 February 2003.

The Prime-Minister, José Manuel Durão Barroso.