Kapsch 1 – Secret Contracts
In relation to long-term monitoring of Road and Motorway Directorate of the Czech Republic (RMD) activities and in particular public contract procedures, TIC reviewed contracts concluded with the company Kapsch for supply of a road toll system.
TIC had sought information about contractual relations between the Ministry of Transport/RMD and Kapsch since 2007. After TIC’s initial request for provision of information pursuant to Act No. 106/1999 Coll. was denied, TIC sent an informal letter to Petr Bendl, Minister of Transport at the time. In his reply Mr Bendl claimed that the ministry did not have the contracts at its disposal because they had been requested by the investigation committee of the Chamber of Deputies of the CR. The economic committee of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the CR in turn sent a statement to TIC that the committee only had copies at its disposal.
After other numerous steps (including a motion filed with the public defender of rights) the Ministry of Transport again refused TIC’s request for information in June 2010 with the justification that the requested Kapsch contract was still being held by the aforementioned investigation committee, which however had concluded its work in April 2008.
Concurrently with these developments, TIC requested the RMD to provide supplements to the Kapsch contract. Although the RMD did provide the supplementary documents after some obstructions, it did not provide the annexes. TIC had requested complete documentation and from the supplements it was apparent that the annexes contain the most important information: the scope and subject of the supplies provided by Kapsch and price specifications. However even the torso of the documents which were provided showed that the RMD concluded supplements on the basis of closed negotiations with the justification that expert opinions had demonstrated that only Kapsch was capable of providing the requested supplies to the RMD. However the RMD did not attach these expert opinions either.
In an open letter to Minister of Transport Vít Bárta, TIC described the manner in which the Ministry of Transport and RMD did (not) provide information and called upon Mr Bárta to remedy the situation. In July 2010 TIC submitted an appeal against the Ministry of Transport’s decision to withhold the information. The Ministry of Transport reviewed TIC’s appeal until May 2011, when a final decision by Minister of Transport Radek Šmerda was delivered to TIC. The appeal committee agreed with the objections that TIC had raised and reached the conclusion that as the contracting entity of a public contract the Ministry of Transport is required to provide copies of documents unless other legal justifications prevent it from doing so. In the opinion of the appeal committee, the fact that the Ministry of Transport handed the documents over to the investigation committee of the Chamber of Deputies of the CR was inadequate, for it should have had copies at its disposal at least.