Public procurement procedures must be carried out in accordance with national legislation and the European Union directives. The main purpose of the procurement legislation is to increase efficiency and to enhance competitiveness of businesses. The fundamental principles framing the public procurement regulation include equality and non-discriminatory treatment of tenders as well as transparent and efficient tendering. It is required according to the principle of transparency that the public contracts are sufficiently publicised. Whereas having competititon in tendering procedures opens up opportunities to conclude the most economically efficient purchases.One could say that the principle of transparency and equal tendering procedures are crucial in enabling efficient competition in public contracts. The principles of non-discrimination and equality require equal treament of tenderers and awarding the contract based on criteria that has been predescribed. There are two criterias on which public contracts awarded shall be based, namely, the lowest price or the most economically advantageous tender. In a situation where the contract is awarded on the criteria of the most economically advantageous tender, then tenders shall be measured against a predescribed requirements.
Tendering of procurements is the main rule according to national procurement legislation and the European Union directives. Direct assignment is the exception to the main rule. Direct assignment is often seen as one of the most difficult concepts in the area of procurements as procurement units are seen to have the right to do a direct assignment only in very exceptional occasions. One needs to predescribe the grounds, on which it will base its justification to use direct assignment and it must state the reasons also in the procurement decision or in other related document based on procurement legislation.
In direct assignment procedure, the procurement unit does the procurement without a tender and without a publishment of a pre-announcement at the contract notice portal HILMA. In other words, in direct assignment procedure, the procurement unit chooses one or more suppliers with whom it will negotiate the terms of the contract. This means that the providers can not freely join the procument procedure. The endeavour is then to avoid the requirements, stated in procurement legislation, concerning the pre-announcement at the contract notice portal as well as the regulation carefully framing the procedure. Since direct assignments fall in the category of procurements stated in the procurement legislation, the procurement unit needs to comply with the requirements and principles regarding non-discrimination and equal treatment as well as the criteria of the most economically advantageous tender (MEAT).
Moreover, one needs to differentiate direct assignments from orders that are based on general procedures and general agreements. This kind of orders are executing already tendered contracts and therefore they are not administrative decisions, that would be open for appeal. If the requirements stated in the procurement legislation are fullfilled, the procurement unit can choose to have a direct assignment procedure in EU as well as in national procurement. The Market Court is a special court hearing public procurement cases in Finland. There are sanctions for illegal direct assignment.