1st Nov 2015

The EU Court of Auditors investigated how member states conduct procurements under The European Regional Development Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Social Fund (now the European Structural Investment Fund (ESIF)). It found that there were errors in 32% of the procurement processes used to distribute these funds in 2007 – 2014. Errors included the failure to conduct a procurement exercise, inappropriate selection or evaluation of bidders and material changes to contracts. The Commission has agreed to investigate and withhold or recover funds more often.

This acts as a reminder for colleges to ensure any future purchases financed wholly or in part by these funds are conducted in accordance with the relevant procurement regulations. A summary of the procurement regulations that apply to purchases both above and below relevant thresholds can be found on Further Education Library of Procurement.

In addition the ESFI issued a Procurement Law Guidance Note that provides a summary of the procurement regulations and information relating to the consequences of non-compliance, common errors and how to avoid them, and recommendations on record keeping. The ESFI state in the report that

"No organisation should apply for ESIF unless it has fully considered and planned how it will be able to demonstrate compliance with Public Procurement Law and the Treaty Principles in selecting the suppliers of goods, works or services part funded through ESIF”.

This report is also available on the Further Education Library of Procurement.