Administrative Law

A Centralização das Contas Públicas

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The centralization of public purchasing has not yet merited any monographic study in Portugal, although its relevance is growing in the context of Public Administration. In fact, since 2007, with the creation of the National Public Procurement System, then managed by the National Public Procurement Agency and since 2012 by the Public Administration Shared Services Entity, the scope of public entities linked to conclude their public contracts through centralized contracting mechanisms, mainly through the ANCP or ESPAP itself, which are transversal purchasing centers. Likewise, the set of contractual objects that have been covered by this centralized contracting obligation has increased. Finally, it appears that even many entities that are not linked to centralized contracting voluntarily adhere to this mechanism. This development of centralized contracting, being a reality for some decades now in Portuguese law and in the rights closest to ours, is not unrelated to the constraints that have more recently been felt in the public sector. In fact, one of the clearest objectives in using centralized contracting is to obtain savings. However, this instrument also presents other advantages, ranging from the standardization of goods and services acquired in the various public entities to the professionalization of acquisition processes, through the development of a body of employees whose essential mission is precisely to develop processes of this nature, by comparison with the traditional system in which each contracting entity allocates its human resources, in installments, to these activities. Therefore, this project is relevant in that it aims to legally frame the activity of centralizing purchases, which is still little studied. The aim is to identify the various legal problems that already arise with acuity in relation to this phenomenon, and contribute to their resolution, thus providing greater security in the use of mechanisms that, if used well, can be important instruments in the development of a system efficient public procurement.


1) Understand the reasons behind the appreciation of centralization of public procurement. 2) Contribute to the necessary scientific development of the study of instruments that serve the purposes of centralizing purchasing (framework agreements, purchasing centers, qualification systems, groups of contracting entities). 3) Understand and contribute to the development of the institutional architecture of the centralized purchasing system, particularly within a network administration framework at European level (cross-border centralized contracting, through collaboration between contracting entities from different European States). 4) Finally, understand and seek to overcome the limits and dangers that the phenomenon of centralisation faces, in particular those related to possible distortions of competition caused by excessive concentration of public demand in purchasing centers; those related to loss of efficiency in acquisitions due to the distance between purchasing centers and public user entities; and those related to respect for the different autonomies and the different levels of decentralisation and deconcentration of Public Administration.



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Lisbon Public Law Research Centre

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