A dynamic purchasing system is defined in Article 1.6 of the Procurement Directive 2004/18/EC:
6. A ‘dynamic purchasing system’ is a completely electronic process for making commonly used purchases, the characteristics of which, as generally available on the market, meet the requirements of the contracting authority, which is limited in duration and open throughout its validity to any economic operator which satisfies the selection criteria and has submitted an indicative tender that complies with the specification.
Recitals 12 and 13 of the Procurement Directive offer the following explanation of a dynamic purchasing system:
(12) Certain new electronic purchasing techniques are continually being developed. Such techniques help to increase competition and streamline public purchasing, particularly in terms of the savings in time and money which their use will allow. Contracting authorities may make use of electronic purchasing techniques, providing such use complies with the rules drawn up under this Directive and the principles of equal treatment, non-discrimination and transparency. To that extent, a tender submitted by a tenderer, in particular where competition has been reopened under a framework agreement or where a dynamic purchasing system is being used, may take the form of that tenderer's electronic catalogue if the latter uses the means of communication chosen by the contracting authority in accordance with Article 42.
(13) In view of the rapid expansion of electronic purchasing systems, appropriate rules should now be introduced to enable contracting authorities to take full advantage of the possibilities afforded by these systems. Against this background, it is necessary to define a completely electronic dynamic purchasing system for commonly used purchases, and lay down specific rules for setting up and operating such a system in order to ensure the fair treatment of any economic operator who wishes to take part therein. Any economic operator which submits an indicative tender in accordance with the specification and meets the selection criteria should be allowed to join such a system. This purchasing technique allows the contracting authority, through the establishment of a list of tenderers already selected and the opportunity given to new tenderers to take part, to have a particularly broad range of tenders as a result of the electronic facilities available, and hence to ensure optimum use of public funds through broad competition.
Recital 16 of the Procurement Directive reminds us that the Community procurement legislation is harmonised, not unified. National differences and choices exist, and dynamic purchasing systems are among the options for the member states:
(16) In order to take account of the different circumstances obtaining in Member States, Member States should be allowed to choose whether contracting authorities may use framework agreements, central purchasing bodies, dynamic purchasing systems, electronic auctions or the competitive dialogue procedure, as defined and regulated by this Directive.
Procedure: Dynamic purchasing systems
Article 33 of the Procurement Directive or Classic Directive 2004/18/EC sets out the dynamic purchasing system procedures:
Dynamic purchasing systems
1. Member States may provide that contracting authorities may use dynamic purchasing systems.
2. In order to set up a dynamic purchasing system, contracting authorities shall follow the rules of the open procedure in all its phases up to the award of the contracts to be concluded under this system. All the tenderers satisfying the selection criteria and having submitted an indicative tender which complies with the specification and any possible additional documents shall be admitted to the system; indicative tenders may be improved at any time provided that they continue to comply with the specification. With a view to setting up the system and to the award of contracts under that system, contracting authorities shall use solely electronic means in accordance with Article 42(2) to (5).
3. For the purposes of setting up the dynamic purchasing system, contracting authorities shall:
(a) publish a contract notice making it clear that a dynamic purchasing system is involved;
(b) indicate in the specification, amongst other matters, the nature of the purchases envisaged under that system, as well as all the necessary information concerning the purchasing system, the electronic equipment used and the technical connection arrangements and specifications;
(c) offer by electronic means, on publication of the notice and up to the expiry of the system, unrestricted, direct and full access to the specification and to any additional documents and shall indicate in the notice the internet address at which such documents may be consulted.
4. Contracting authorities shall give any economic operator, throughout the entire period of the dynamic purchasing system, the possibility of submitting an indicative tender and of being admitted to the system under the conditions referred to in paragraph 2. They shall complete evaluation within a maximum of 15 days from the date of submission of the indicative tender. However, they may extend the evaluation period provided that no invitation to tender is issued in the meantime.
The contracting authority shall inform the tenderer referred to in the first subparagraph at the earliest possible opportunity of its admittance to the dynamic purchasing system or of the rejection of its indicative tender.
5. Each specific contract must be the subject of an invitation to tender. Before issuing the invitation to tender, contracting authorities shall publish a simplified contract notice inviting all interested economic operators to submit an indicative tender, in accordance with paragraph 4, within a time limit that may not be less than 15 days from the date on which the simplified notice was sent. Contracting authorities may not proceed with tendering until they have completed evaluation of all the indicative tenders received by that deadline.
6. Contracting authorities shall invite all tenderers admitted to the system to submit a tender for each specific contract to be awarded under the system. To that end they shall set a time limit for the submission of tenders.
They shall award the contract to the tenderer which submitted the best tender on the basis of the award criteria set out in the contract notice for the establishment of the dynamic purchasing system. Those criteria may, if appropriate, be formulated more precisely in the invitation referred to in the first subparagraph.
7. A dynamic purchasing system may not last for more than four years, except in duly justified exceptional cases.
Contracting authorities may not resort to this system to prevent, restrict or distort competition.
No charges may be billed to the interested economic operators or to parties to the system.
The same ground is covered, but chopped into a reader friendly format by the UK Office of Government Commerce (OGC) guide Dynamic Purchasing Systems – OGC Guidance on Dynamic Purchasing Systems in the New Procurement Regulations (updated version March 2008):
From dynamic purchasing systems there is only a short step to electronic procurement. If you are interested in e-procurement in the European Union, you could start your tour by looking at the IDABC web page 2010: The e-procurement target for Europe: