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Rejection of a tender due to the unavailability of a project Team Leader

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  • Case: 105/2011/TN
    Opened on 17 Mar 2011 - Decision on 28 Mar 2012
  • Institution(s) concerned: European Commission
  • Field(s) of law: External relations
  • Types of maladministration alleged – (i) breach of, or (ii) breach of duties relating to: Absence of discrimination [Article 5 ECGAB]
  • Subject matter(s): Award of tenders or grants
Author: Gunnar Pippel
Copyright: Stocklib © Gunnar Pippel

Summary of the decision on complaint 105/2011/(TS)TN against the European Commission

The complaint, submitted by a Greek company, concerned the exclusion of a bid in a tender procedure for an EU-funded project. The complainant's bid was rejected when it emerged that its proposed Team Leader had committed himself to working full-time on another EU-funded project taking place at the same time.

In its complaint to the European Ombudsman, the complainant alleged that that the EU Delegation to Turkey wrongly allowed and confirmed the rejection of the bid. The company claimed that the European Commission should disqualify the Team Leader from both projects for which he had been proposed and that the complainant should be allowed to replace the Team Leader.

The Ombudsman pointed out that, while it is the case that an expert cannot work on two projects at the same time, it is not against any rule or principle for an expert to put his/her name forward for several EU projects. However, according to the applicable rules, an expert engaged in other EU-financed projects must not be proposed as a key expert and a tender may be rejected if a key expert turns out to be unavailable.

The Ombudsman found that the Commission committed an instance of maladministration by recommending to the Turkish contracting authority that it exclude the company's offer before it had been established that the proposed Team Leader would be unavailable for the project. However, the eventual decision to exclude the offer, taken by the Turkish contracting authority, was appropriate. The Ombudsman did not find that the conditions for replacing the expert had been met.

The Ombudsman made a further remark to the Commission aimed at reducing the risk that offers for carrying out EU-funded projects be excluded due to the unavailability of key experts.