Awarding contracts in the public sector is a complex procedure, especially since there must be safeguards to avoid wasting taxpayers’ money, use funds correctly and efficiently, and systematically stamp out corruption and nepotism. Public invitations to tender aim to ensure the most economical – and not just the cheapest – process and result. Nevertheless, such invitations consistently lead to irritation, frustration and indignation in the design industry. Unpaid work such as designs and concepts are regularly demanded in advance, even though they are not completely necessary for many contracts under applicable laws. In practice, the full spectrum of available tender types frequently goes unused too.

The German Design Assembly has therefore developed practical guidelines for the award of public-sector contracts in the design sector, demonstrating clear and legally sound ways to contract out design work fairly. The guidelines are intended to help federal, state and local governments use available resources efficiently. Deciding on the right kind of tender not only leads to better results, it also reduces the amount of work required for the contracting entity as well as the designers themselves. “Many designs often only lead to uncertainty on the client’s part,” Thomas Bender and Christian Büning, the leading authors, have observed, “Evaluating them not only takes up resources but also demands expertise and management competence that the issuing bodies often do not have access to.”

The 36-page brochure looks primarily at its focus area of communication design and can be viewed as a free PDF at the Design Assembly’s office by emailing info@designtag.org. It is the first in a series that studies additional fields of design such as product and fashion design and will be updated as laws change.

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