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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not award public contracts “in the dark“

19 October 2021 News

In connection with a publication on the electronic site bird.bg of 18th October 2021, in which it is stated that "public procurements for BGN 25 million were held" in the dark " in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs", we would like to state the following:

Allegations that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has awarded public contracts "in the dark" and that public procurement procedures have been circumvented are completely untrue.

In fact, these are public procurements in the fields of defence and security, conducted under Art. 20, para. 1, item 4 and Art. 20, para. 6 of the Public Procurement Act (PPA).

Why is it necessary to award public contracts under this procedure? Because this concerns national security.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a strategic site, according to Decree No. 181 of 20th July 2009 for determining the strategic sites and activities that are important for national security. After official coordination, the Information and Communication Infrastructure and the National Visa Information System have been declared information and communication systems of critical importance for the activity of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a strategic site for the national security of Republic of Bulgaria.

Also, a letter from SANS from 2017 to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave a recommendation "in cases of need to protect information about the organizational, technical and software protection of automated information systems or networks of public authorities, when information should be protected on technical, technological and organizational solutions, the disclosure of which would endanger important economic interests of the state, to apply Annex 1 to Art. 25 of the Classified Information Protection Act ”.

All public procurements conducted under Art. 20, para. 1, item 4 and Art. 20, para. 6 of the Public Procurement Act have been promulgated in a lawful manner. They are also published in the buyer's profile, observing the principle of publicity and transparency, and the author of the article was sent information, which specifically indicates the place on the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Public Procurement Agency, where you can get public information about the orders carried out under this procedure.

The procedures were carried out under the criterion of "lowest price" and for each there was more than one bid. 

Regarding the allegations that some values in the contracts have been deleted, this is due to the fact that the bids of the participants were submitted under the Law on Protection of Classified Information, as well as because a Schedule for the stages of awarding and conducting the public procurement was followed, coordinated with SANS.

The allegations are exaggerated about the value at which the public procurements have been awarded, conducted by the procedure of art. 20, para. 1, item 4 and Art. 20, para. 6 of the Public Procurement Act. The estimated value of each of the public procurements is publicly available in the documentation for participation, and the price of the contract cannot exceed it.

We would like to note that before 2017, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not invest enough in modernizing and maintaining security and cyber defence systems.

Pursuant to the regulatory provisions, as well as according to the organizational regulations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Information and Communication Systems Directorate in the Ministry is assigned functions as a unit for network and information security and a body for development and operation of classified information communication and information systems.

The joint work with the company "Information Services" mentioned in the article is necessitated by the need to increase the protection of the information and communication infrastructure of the department. To maintain this protection, additional qualifications in the field of IT technologies are required.

We would also like to remind you that the bodies that are authorized to monitor for administrative violations of the Public Procurement Act when awarding public procurement contracts are listed in Art. 261 of the same law.

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