Definition: What is public procurement?

Public procurement can be seen as a contract between an authority or a public undertaking and a private tenderer. Here is the process explained.

Public procurement occurs when a public authority or a company subject to public procurement law enters into a contract with a private tenderer concerning the acquisition of supplies, services or buildings, by means of financing.

Legal foundation

Public procurement has specific legal foundations in Switzerland. The establishment of public procurement law in Switzerland is the Agreement on Public Procurement (AMP-OMC), which contains the minimum rules in this area. Public procurement in the Confederation is then regulated more specifically by the Federal Act on Public Procurement (LMP) and the Ordinance on Public Procurement (OMP), both amended as of January 1, 2021. The Inter-Cantonal Agreement for Public procurement (IVöB) amended in 2019 thus offers a legal framework at the cantonal and communal level. This framework is then applied according to the corresponding cantonal laws on implementation.


Public procurement law establishes the procedure for awarding tenders in a transparent way. It requires public authorities and the undertakings forming part of them to make public contracts and acquisitions in the public interest above a certain threshold. The OMP sets several rules concerning the procedures to be applied, notably depending on the type of contract and estimated amount.

Optimal use of public funds

This tendering process allows private companies to transparently access calls for tender issued by public authorities both at the communal and cantonal level as well as at the national level. It also provides public authorities with the ability to obtain the best offer in financial terms, which ensures optimal use of public funds. With the introduction of the amended Public Procurement Act (in particular, art. 12 para. 3), competition based on quality and sustainable criteria is now required.

Source: Website of the Swiss Federal Procurement Conference (Beschaffungskonferenz des Bundes BKB), 15.10.2020


Last modification 30.04.2021

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