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Purchasing Guidance

mobelfakta.no gives advise on appropriate environmental and quality requirements of public and large private office furniture purchases.

PROCUREMENT GUIDE TO GOVERNMENT AND LARGE PRIVATE OFFICE FURNITURE PROCUREMENT

mobelfakta.no is working in partnership with the trade union furniture + interior of Norwegian Industries, to get the public Norway to set appropriate environmental and quality requirements in respect of public and large private office furniture purchases. It is desirable that at an office furniture procurement has requirements towards environment and quality in addition to price, to ensure that the quality level of the furniture purchased is keeping Norwegian and/or European standards, and are produced under ethical conditions, are health and environmentally friendly products and that they hold regular guarantees.

In this regard, there is provided a draft proposal for a procurement guide for use by public and large private office furniture purchase, containing specific and industry relevant purchasing requirements. The intention of the procurement guide is to help buyers to ask relevant and appropriate requirements of the tender documents, which can also be met by furniture manufacturers who want to deliver. The procurement guide is expected to be completed in early spring of 2013 and will be published in, among others mobelfakta.no.


BACKGROUND OF INITIATIVES TO DESIGN OF PROCUREMENT GUIDE

18. august 2011 the trade union furniture+interior/mobelfakta.no met Agency for Public Management and eGovernment (DIFI) to discuss safety and quality requirements in public furniture purchases. Norwegian furniture manufacturers desires a public procurement policy where environment and quality are criteria that are emphasized more or as much as price. Environmental and quality standards are proposed by the furniture industry in various forms, both as entrance requirements for competitive bidding and weighting basis.

In the meeting with Difi the industry promoted their views. These were discussed, among others, against Difi's purchase rules for public procurement, based on the government's action plan from June 2007 - which has a goal that procurement in the public sector should take place with a minimum of environmental impact, and with respect for basic labor rights and human rights. Moreover, it is determined that the environmental and social considerations in public procurement should be a tool that contributes to an efficient public sector and a competitive business environment. The government has ordered all government agencies to follow up on the specific requirements of procurement and environmental management in the action plan from 2008.

The furniture industry questioned the specific requirements of procurement and environmental management - how concrete guidelines are these for public and large private purchasers in connection with furniture purchases? And how relevant and appropriate are they to deal with for furniture manufacturers with focus on delivering?

On the basis of fear of discriminating against potential suppliers and to prevent the possibility of free competition, the current public procurement requirements regarding office furniture and the environment - as the furniture industry sees it, is formulated as open as possible to avoid a situation where you may end up having to prioritize specific ecolabels or documentation schemes, while excluding others. This principle of justice leads in practice to this: the specification of safety and quality standards, when it comes to furniture, is left to each individual buyer and his expertise regarding environmental and quality criteria, and is himself responsible for designing their own tender document.

Review of several tender documents reveals and clarifies purchasers lack of knowledge about Norwegian furniture manufacturing, Norwegian furniture and appropriate environmental and quality standards. Tender documents with unfavorable environmental requirements has led to frustration for both the purchaser and provider, and hampers both offers, fair competition and work process. It should be desirable for all parties to be united when it comes to the documentation requirements that are appropriate to ask. From the furniture industry it is desirable that buyers demand environmental standards that are consistent with those that the industry is now working to acquire.

The furniture industry distinguishes between furniture manufactured and sold to the planned private setting - the home market, and furniture for public spaces - contract market. It is a point that buyers demand furniture that meets the environmental and quality standards that are appropriate for the market the furniture will be purchased for, and the type of environment and quality documentation that communicate with the person it is addressed to - professional purchaser or private consumer. In the meeting Difi was aware that many Norwegian manufacturers meet European quality standards (CEN) a.o. the public sector and that many also have environmentally certified products.

Communication with eg DIFI followed during fall 2012 and spring 2013 in conjunction with the furniture industry efforts preparation of an appropriate procurement guide for public and large private office furniture purchases.

More information from Difi - Agency for Public Management and eGovernment / disciplinary portals, on matters such as human resource development for public purchasers and suppliers can be found here:
http://www.anskaffelser.no/

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