The base text regulating public contracts in Bulgaria is the Public Procurement Act (ZOP). This act regulates the use of public funds in contracting works to business operators.
The act ensures public disclosure and transparency, free and fair competition, and equality and non-discrimination when conducting selection procedures for public contracts. This regulates the processes related to:
- the supply of goods;
- the provision of services;
- the construction, including building and engineering, performance or design of building and installation works.
Special public contracts, conducted outside the scope of this Act and implemented under so-called 'offset' programmes, as well as in contracting activities in sensitive areas such as defence and security, where such activities come into contact with classified information or must come with special security measures.
The Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism regulates the contracting process, keeps a register and monitors offset public contracts.
National public contract authorities
The Bulgarian Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism is responsible for policy on public contracts. This Ministry has set up a special body, the Public Procurement Agency, which effectively is responsible for all activities relating to drawing up draft legislation, implementing directives, the methodology for their implementation and keeping a national public contracts register. The register kept by the agency is available to the public, free of charge, and contains:
- decisions on opening and closing public contract selection procedures, as well as decisions to extend submission periods for bids or expressions of interest;
- notices intended for entry in the register;
- information about awarded public contracts;
- information about completed public contract agreements;
- other information.
Monitoring the proper implementation of legislation through checks on contractors is carried out by the Public Financial Inspection Agency and the National Audit Office of Bulgaria.
When preparing bids to participate in a public contract selection procedure, bidders must strictly comply with the conditions announced by the contracting authority. Each participant is entitled to submit just one bid, in Bulgarian, in a sealed, non-transparent envelope, delivered in person by the bidder or an authorised representative, or by registered post with receipt of delivery. The bid price should be placed in a separate, non-transparent envelope, with “Предлагана цена” (Bid price) written on it, and enclosed with the envelope containing the bid.
The Public Procurement Act (ZOP) also allows for e-bidding under the terms and conditions of the Electronic Documents and Electronic Signature Act (ZEDEP).
The validity period for bids is the time in which bidders are bound by the terms and conditions of their bids.
For offset public contracts, their agreements are drawn up by the Ministry of Economy and Energy and are handed over to the Offset section in the Offset Investments department of the Economic Policy Directorate. Proposals for offset programmes are registered immediately with this department and are published on the Ministry's website.
The awarding of special public contracts and offset programmes is based on certain criteria detailed in the procedures for assessing offset programme bids.
To be awarded a special public contract as an offset programme, certain requirements must be fulfilled. Foreign entities may only bid to become contractors and/or the main sub-contractor for these contracts if valued over BGN 5 million (subject to Ministry of Economy and Energy review) or over BGN 10 million excluding VAT.
The Offset section of the Offset Investments department at the Economic Policy Directorate reviews the bids received from companies that have met the conditions.
In Bulgaria, selection procedures are carried out as stipulated in the Public Procurement Act (ZOP), Regulation on awarding small public contracts, and the Regulation on special public contracts.
The Bulgarian Development Bank offers long-term credit and assists small and medium-sized businesses in applying for EU funding programmes.