Slovenia’s public contract legislation is harmonised with EU legislation (Directive 2014/24/EC; Directive 2014/25/EC etc.). The Public Procurement Act regulates contracts on supplies of goods, services and construction work in the general area (i.e. contracts awarded by traditional contracting authorities, such as central government, regional and local authorities and other bodies governed by public law) as well as in the utilities sector (i.e. contracts awarded by public, semi-public and private entities with special or exclusive rights operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors). Supplies of goods, services and construction works in the defence and security sectors are regulated by the Public Procurement for Defence and Security Act. The procedure for revision is regulated by the Legal Protection in Public Procurement Procedures Act.
The main principles of the public procurement regime are the free movement of goods and services and the freedom of establishment in the EU; and the principles of economy, efficiency, success, transparency, proportionality, free competition and equal treatment of the bidders.
Public contracts must comply with the applicable environmental, social and labour law.
Treatment of foreign bidders
The law prescribes the equal treatment of domestic and foreign bidders. Foreign bidders can submit a tender on the same conditions as domestic ones. The legislation strictly forbids any form of discrimination. Actions by a contract authority which would discriminate against foreign bidders are prohibited.
Public procurement procedures are only required for contracts whose estimated value exceeds certain thresholds.
Thresholds in general procurement are:
- EUR 20,000 (goods, services and design contests);
- EUR 40,000 (construction work);
- EUR 750,000 (certain social and other specific services).
Thresholds in the utilities sector are:
- EUR 50,000 (goods, services and design contests);
- EUR 100,000 (construction work);
- EUR 1,000,000 (some social and other specific services).
Thresholds in the security and defence sector are:
- EUR 40,000 (goods and services);
- EUR 80,000 (construction work).
For procurements below these thresholds, the contracting authorities do not need to use the public contract procedure, but must still follow the principles of general public purchases and keep records of these procurements.
Information on all contracts exceeding EUR 10,000 must be published on the contracting authority’s webpage or on the national procurement portal.
Types of public contract procedures
The Public Procurement Act provides for the following procedures:
- a low-value contract procedure, which can only be used for public contracts with an estimated value up to certain thresholds: for supplies of goods and services up to the threshold for mandatory TED publication, i.e. up to EUR 139,000 (EUR 214,000 if the contracting authority is not financed from the budget) and up to EUR 428,000 for supplies of goods and services or projects in the utilities sector, and in the defence and security sector; and for construction works with an estimated value of between EUR 40,000 and EUR 500,000 in the general area (until 15 April 2021, this threshold has temporarily been changed – a low-value procedure may be used for contracts worth up to EUR 1,000,000) and EUR 100,000 and EUR 1,000,000 in the utilities sector.
- an open procedure in which every bidder meeting the selection criteria can submit a tender;
- a restricted procedure, which is a two-phase procedure: in the first phase, the capability of the bidders is evaluated, while the second phase is reserved for commercial aspects of the bid;
- competitive dialogue or a competitive procedure with negotiation as a procedure intended for very complex procurements;
- innovation partnership, which is used when a contracting authority wants an innovative product, service or works that cannot be achieved by purchasing products, services or works already available on the market;
- a negotiated procedure (in three forms, i.e. competitive procedure with negotiation, negotiated procedure with publication, and negotiated procedure without prior publication). Procedural rules for the negotiation are not prescribed; contracting authorities have more or less a free choice in realising the negotiated procedure, but must announce the number of all phases so the bidders know when the last phase of negotiations will commence.
The Public Procurement Act also regulates the techniques and instruments for electronic and aggregated procurement, i.e. qualifications system in the utilities area, framework agreements, electronic auction and a dynamic purchasing system.
The Public Procurement for Defence and Security Act provides for special procedures.
Information about public contracts
The Slovenian public contract portal
All procurements whose estimated value exceeds the thresholds for the public contract procedure must be published on the Slovenian public contract portal (single information portal) of the Slovenian Public Procurement Office (www.enarocanje.si).
Tenders Electronic Daily – TED
Contracts of a higher value whose estimated value exceeds the thresholds set by the EU regulation must also be published at TED (Tenders Electronic Daily), the online version of the Supplement to the Official Journal of the EU for public contracts (www.ted.europa.eu).
These thresholds are:
- EUR 139,000 for goods and services in general procurement (EUR 221,000 if the contracting authority is not budget financed);
- EUR 428,000 for goods and services, projects in the utilities sector and in the defence and security sector;
- EUR 5,350,000 for construction work in general procurement, the utilities sector and in the defence and security sector;
- EUR 750,000 and EUR 1,000,000 for certain social and other specific services in general procurement and in the utilities sector.
Contractual notices whose value exceeds these thresholds are automatically submitted to TED by the Slovenian public procurement portal.
The Slovenian public procurement portal and TED provide all necessary information without cost to all interested bidders from Slovenia, the EU and third countries.
Other sources of information in Slovenia
Contracting authorities usually publish their contract notices on their web pages as well.
Bidders can request information on published contract notices from certain specialised advisory companies in Slovenia (some provide this service in English as well) and can thus follow public contract information on their websites.
The publication of a public contract on the Slovenian public procurement portal is made in the Slovenian language only. In TED, a summary of the publication is also available in English and other European languages.
The procurement documentation is generally in the Slovenian language only.
The contracting authority may provide that tenderers may submit their tender in whole or in part in a foreign language, especially the part relating to technical characteristics, quality and technical documentation, such as brochures, propaganda and technical material and others. In this case, the submitted documentation must indicate related details.
In exceptional cases, where there is insufficient appropriate Slovenian terminology in a specific technical field or when required by the subject of the public contract, the contracting authority may prepare documentation or part of the documentation in a foreign language.
The public contract procedure is conducted in the Slovenian language.
Content of the publication
The publication of a public contract consists of information about the contracting authority, the subject of the contract, the selection criteria, the awarding criteria, information about the availability of documents relating to the call for tender, the time for submitting a tender, an indicative timetable for a decision on the contract award and a contact person who can provide additional explanations. The publication of public contract also includes a link to the application via which an e-bid can be submitted.
Any person interested in submitting a tender in Slovenia has the right to acquire tender documentation. Tender documents are available without cost.
Upon publication of a public tender, potential bidders may request an explanation of the tender documentation. Answers and additional explanations concerning the documentation are published on the website along with the published public contract.
Submission of a bid
After April 2018, all public contract procedures must be conducted electronically (except in special cases, e.g. if physical models need to be attached to the documentation etc.).
Bidders submit their bid using the electronic system. Several different e-submission systems exist (state-owned system e-JN and various commercial systems). The contracting authority chooses the e-submission system and provides a link to it in the tender announcement.
Contracting authorities can demand that foreign bidders submit relevant evidential documents from competent foreign public authorities. To prove the conditions regarding these documents have been duly met, bidders use the European Single Procurement Document – ESPD. During the procedure, the contracting authority can call on bidders to submit documents related to the statements contained in the ESPD (unless they can obtain them free of charge by directly accessing the national database of a member state).
A bid bond may be requested. If requested in the form of a bill of exchange, the same cannot be submitted in electronic form. Electronic bills of exchange do not exist in Slovenia.
The deadlines for submitting bids are stated in the published contract notice and cannot be shorter than the deadline stipulated by law for individual types of procedures (e.g. 30 days for an open procedure with electronic bid submission). The contracting authority will only accept bids that have arrived by the date and time prescribed for submitting tenders.
Bidder selection criteria
Bidders must meet the selection criteria stipulated in the tender regarding their suitability to pursue the professional activity, their economic and financial standing as well as their technical and professional ability.
The law stipulates the mandatory grounds for excluding a bidder (criminal offences and misconduct in the area of commercial and labour law, unsettled tax obligations, inclusion on the list of negative references) and optional grounds for excluding a bidder (e.g. distortion of competition, an attempt to influence the tender, start of insolvency proceedings etc.).
Participation of foreign bidders in Slovenian public contracts
Foreign bidders can participate in a Slovenian public contract independently, jointly with a Slovenian partner, or with the assistance of an advisory company specialised in public contracts.
Foreign bidders can submit a bid by themselves but, since the tender documentation is generally only available in the Slovenian language and the bid documentation must also be submitted in the Slovenian language, they must translate the tender documentation into their language, then prepare a tender and translate it back into the Slovenian language, which is time-consuming and entails additional translation costs.
Another possibility is to connect up with a local Slovenian partner to submit a joint bid. In practice, this solution is widely used, especially if the foreign bidder already has a business relationship with the Slovenian partner.
Another widely used possibility is to engage a Slovenian advisory company in this area to examine the tender documentation, prepare the bid and the pertaining documentation and participate in the public contract procedure on behalf of the bidder.
Bids are opened in public. The law stipulates exceptional situations when the opening of a bid is not public (in a negotiated procedure without prior publication as well as under special terms and conditions in a competitive procedure involving negotiation).
In the state-owned e-procurement information system e-JN, at the time set as the deadline bids are automatically opened in an e-system and pro forma invoices are published on the website where the tender was published. After bids have been opened, anyone can see the results of the bid opening.
Contracting authorities select the most advantageous offer on the basis of the criteria for awarding procurement described in the tender documentation. These criteria must not be discriminatory. They must have a logical connection with the subject of the public tendering procedure.
The general awarding criterion is that of the most economically advantageous bid. This means the best price/quality ratio that is assessed according to the award criteria. The criteria can include technical merit, aesthetic and functional characteristics, social, environmental and innovative characteristics, trading conditions; the organisation, qualification and experience of the staff assigned to performing the contract, where this might significantly relates to quality of performing the contract, after-sales service and technical assistance, the delivery conditions such as the delivery date, delivery process and delivery period or period of completion.
In relatively simple public tendering procedures, the main criterion for awarding a contract is typically the lowest price.
If the contracting authority believes the price is abnormally low, it must require the bidder to explain the price or costs in the bid and, in specific cases, it may reject it.
The contracting authority is obliged to reject a bid when it establishes the requirements of environmental, social and labour legislation have not been met.
A special rule applies to public contracts in the utilities sector: where there are several equivalent bids in terms of the award criteria, the contracting authority must give priority to those bids where the share of products originating from third countries is less than 50% of the total value of products included in the bid. Bids are considered equivalent when the difference in prices does not exceed 3%.
The contracting authority must decide on the result of the tender within 90 days at the latest and publish a notice of its decision in the same manner as the public procurement was published (TED and/or national portal). The decision can be appealed against by the statutory deadline. After this stand-still period, the contract is awarded to the selected bidder and the contract award notice published in the same manner as the tender (TED and/or national portal).
Legal protection of bidders
Challenges to a public procurement decision in Slovenia are regulated by the Legal Protection in Public Procurement Procedures Act. If a bidder believes the award criteria were discriminatory, that some mistakes were made during the public tender procedure or that the public procurement acts have not been respected, they may have recourse to the National Review Commission for Reviewing Public Procurement Procedures which is a public authority for supervising the lawfulness of public tendering procedures in Slovenia.
Certain limitations apply. Complaints about the content of the announcement, the invitation to tender or the tender documentation are not allowed if the complainant could have alerted the contracting authority about the alleged infringement via the public procurement portal, but did not do so.
A request for an audit of the content of the announcement, an invitation to tender or a tender dossier is generally not allowed to be submitted after the deadline closes for the receipt of bids.