Doing business with CERN: a new website explains everything

At CERN, procuring all supplies and services is the job of the Procurement and Industrial Services (PI) group of the Finance and Procurement Department. Managing about 30,000 new orders and contracts every year, the Group recently launched a brand-new website where CERN and its external partners can find all the useful information to effectively do business together.


When the Laboratory needs to buy goods or services, the PI group comes into play and makes sure that this happens according to the established rules and procedures. “CERN procures supplies and services and awards orders and contracts in compliance with the principles of transparency and impartiality,” explains Anders Unnervik, Head of Procurement and Industrial Services in the Finance and Procurement Department (FP). “CERN’s tendering procedures are selective but they are designed to guarantee fair competition.”

The invitations to tender are, in principle, limited to firms established in the Member States or in countries that are candidates for accession and Associate Member States. Contracts and orders are awarded to firms whose bids meet the technical, financial and delivery requirements and are either the lowest or represent the best value for money.

A range of stakeholders is involved in the procurement process: CERN’s personnel requesting the supplies or services, existing and potential suppliers, Industrial Liaison Officers and, of course, the procurement staff. The new website was developed within the Finance and Procurement Department by its webmaster, Robin Ashford, who explains: “The foundation for the project is Drupal, an open source content management system with styling determined by the new CERN web framework and graphic charter being developed by the Communications Group, and hosting provided by IT-OIS-ODS using CERN’s new Drupal infrastructure.”

Among other features, the site contains graphical lifecycles to illustrate the procurement process. The figures are interactive, providing detailed information on every step of the procurement process, including questions and answers and direct links to all the necessary technical documents. “After the completion of the LHC project, it was necessary to refurbish the templates of technical documents to align them with the current activities of the Organization. These updates have been performed under the auspices of the Accelerators and Technology Sector Quality Assurance Working Group chaired by Tadeusz Kurtyka, involving some experienced Procurement Officers. This Working Group proposed that a visual approach would be the best means for promoting clear and best practices in procurement,” explains Pierre Bonnal from the Projects Support Office of the Accelerators and Technology Sector, who worked out a graphical framework for presenting the procurement lifecycle.

While providing CERN’s personnel with all the necessary information concerning the procurement procedures, the website does not neglect to satisfy the external potential partners with dedicated sections where CERN’s procedures are explained in straightforward terms, supported by details of all major upcoming procurement requests (Forthcoming Market Surveys and Calls for Tender). “Information about upcoming needs was previously published quarterly on paper and presented to the Finance Committee. Thanks to the new website, it is now immediately available along with links to all of the relevant documentation as it is published”, explains Cristina Lara, Deputy Head of the Procurement and Industrial Services Group. “Potential suppliers are also encouraged to contact staff in the Procurement Service, along with Industrial Liaison Officers in our Member States, and the new website provides detailed contact information for both. This is part of an ongoing effort to improve the quality of our services,” she concludes.

by CERN Bulletin