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Making sense of CPV codes

The common procurement vocabulary, or CPV in short, are codes that have been developed by the European Union. The CPV provides a unified classification system for public procurement. Herein, contracting authorities like government departments, cities, and municipalities have a standardised tool to refer to projects and outline the subject of procurement contracts. As of February 1st, 2006, the use of CPV is mandatory in the EU. CPV applies to public procurement across all industry sectors. This is closely interlinked with the issuance of public tenders that need to follow the framework if the value of a procurement contract exceeds a certain threshold. This system’s goal is to not only prevent fraud and waste but also local protectionism. With all the features mentioned before and the fact that the CPV is available in all official EU languages, finding business opportunities becomes much easier for potential contractors. To make it more user-friendly, the CPV was designed to focus more on actual products than materials.

What do the codes stand for?

The CPV not only defines the subject of a contract but also adds other qualitative information through its alphanumeric coding. This coding is based on a tree structure that consists of nine digits. Eight digits comprise the main part of the code, with an additional single check digit.

  • The first two digits indicate the divisions.
  • The first three digits indicate the groups.
  • The first four digits indicate the classes.
  • The first five digits indicate the categories.
  • Each of the remaining three digits adds further detail to every category.

Furthermore, all digit codes are complemented by a describing sentence about the type of works, supplies or services that a contract consists of. Sometimes, the so-called supplementary vocabulary will be added in brackets to expand upon the description of a contract’s subject.
An example of a CPV code could be 45510000-5 which signifies the “Hire of cranes with operator”.
Authorities wanting to issue a notice for a competition for a contract first must find the codes that best describe their intended project. While the contracting authorities can choose as many codes as they like, they must indicate one that will be used for the title of the contract notice.

Where to find government projects

As mentioned before, contracting authorities in the EU are obliged to publicly call for competitions for contracts through public tendering if the contract value surpasses a certain threshold. However, the place of publication remains in the hand of national legislators. Many tender offers are being hosted on the website of the local authorities. In Germany, for instance, tender offers are listed on the sites of the federal state and on their own websites for larger cities. This creates a landscape that is very hard to overlook and navigate. Researching information about open tenders can thus become quite the struggle and extremely time-consuming. Therefore, many contractors employ additional services that help them find just the right tender offers that meet their requirements.

Tender information at Building Radar

Building Radar is one of the platforms that offer these services and much more on top. On the Building Radar platform, you can find all information about tenders from all types of sources in one common place. You not only have the opportunity to find all construction related tenders from hundreds of sources and browse all CPV codes, but we have also included NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) and UNSPSC (United Nations Standard Products and Services Code) as well, and other ones to be added in the near future. On the Building Radar platform, you will find all tender information in our own layout prepared for your best use with all relevant information apparent at a glance. See for yourself by clicking this link.

Author: Laurenz Kalthoff


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