The National Agency for Fiscal Administration – Second-Hand Shopping

(It seems that) the National Agency for Fiscal Administration (ANAF) wants a new visual identity, and they already have a brief.

I received an email on the company’s office address, sent by a lady from ANAF, which had no written text, but it had a Word document attached called “Letter of Intent”. The original document can be found here: Scrisoare de intenție – proiect SMIS 31224- 12 09 2013 șand is in fact an invitation to participate in the auction.

The first observation: the lack of reasonable politeness in approaching a possible service provider.

The date and registration number of the letter is 12.09.2013. The deadline for submitting the offer is 24.09.2013, according to the document. My colleague Simona asks for additional information in writing. Answer: You can find them on our website.

The second observation: the lack of a minimum “savoir-faire” in business relations.

We finally get our hands on the official public procurement document, sent to us by email. I personally respond to that email and to that lady, thanking her first of all for the interest in collaborating with us, then making some remarks on what was written in the documents, also asking for additional clarifications, which you can read about below. No answer to this day.

The third observation: total disinterest, in flagrant contradiction with the title of the project “Development of a viable partnership”, see the statement below. Partnership!? Nothing is suggesting that judging by ANAF’s actions.

And now the source of the issue.
The documents show that ANAF wants a new visual identity and an identity manual. I go past all the usual problems that come with state documents, I go past the lack of politeness, the disinterest and lack of “savoir-faire”, and I quote the following:

“The National Agency for Fiscal Administration, located in Bucharest, 17 Apolodor Street, sector 5, intends to purchase directly, in accordance with the legal provisions in force:
– services for the realisation of a creative concept regarding the visual identity of the institution: the elaboration of a visual identity manual of A.N.A.F., as well as the writing of the specifications regarding the redesign and restructuring of A.N.A.F. and of other websites of subordinate units.”

“We mention that the acquisition takes place as part of the project “Development of a viable partnership between the National Agency for Fiscal Administration and the direct beneficiaries of the services which it provides – a premise for the efficiency of the public revenue collection system”.

“The maximum allocated budget: 58,050.00 Romanian lei without VAT, the equivalent of 13,130.81 euros (National Bank of Romania exchange rate from 22.07.2013, 1 euro = 4.4209 lei); respectively 71,982.00 Romanian lei including VAT. Way of procurement: direct purchase.”

For compliance and other details, the document can be found in full here: Anunț achiziție directă Manual id vizuală – proiect SMIS 31224- 12 09 2013 (2).

But wait, now comes the interesting part:
What we needed to do, meaning the deliverables for identity (I will not go into detail about the web portal as well):
“A. Elaboration of a visual identity manual and reconfiguration of the National Agency for Fiscal Administration’s logo. This activity covers all internal and external documents of the institution, including service cards. The provider must provide templates for documents, define the standard characteristics for the writing of internal and external documents (paragraph, font, etc.). Templates must be provided in several formats (for internal use, printing, etc.) compatible with MS Word, and the graphic elements in the manual will be provided in colour and black and white. Moreover, the Provider must comply with the minimum visual identity measures by putting the mandatory graphic and informative elements on the covers of the manual (according to the Implementation Manual and the Visual Identity Manual for Structural Instruments in Romania 2007-2013), which will be provided electronically by the Beneficiary, after concluding the public procurement contract. The provider must ensure the reconfiguration of the logo of the National Agency for Fiscal Administration (A.N.A.F.) in terms of colour, font and shape. The new concept of the logo is an integral part of the visual identity manual developed in accordance with the Ministry of Public Finance Manual and with the domain’s legislation currently in force. The logo of the Tax Agency must be developed in Corel or something equivalent, convertible to curves, so that it can be used in any documentation of the institution. The logo will be provided in several MS Word compatible formats for greater flexibility in document management and archiving and will be available in adapted versions for some of the agency’s structures.”
– the project must be completed within 15 days of signing the public procurement contract.

The fourth observation: ANAF wants the impossible, it is borderline ridiculous, and it demonstrates how much it really cares about its own identity as an Institution, about its interaction with suppliers and taxpayers, despite the pompous statement of the project. Throughout my 19-year career in this field, I have not encountered a similar case study in which an entire visual identity, a manual of identity standards and specifications for the web portal were made in just 15 working days!
– conditions of participation, among others: the participant “should be the holder of an advertising prize (such as Effie, Ador or other international prize)”.

The fifth observation:
If it is just a branding and identity design auction, why do advertising awards matter as a mandatory condition? After all, why does an award matter? Or, why did we (Branzas) receive that Letter? If the person in charge of the auction had researched a little about their possible suppliers, they could have very easily found out that we did not win any prizes because we do not participate in such competitions as a matter of principle, especially in advertising competitions. We are a branding and design company.
– “the offer submitted at the A.N.A.F. headquarters will certainly contain a proposal for a creative concept inspired by the mission of the institution; the following will be taken into account: knowledge on the mission and services of the National Agency for Fiscal Administration, the quality and degree of adequacy of the proposed concept (outline) as to the mission and services of the A.N.A.F.”

The sixth observation: creative concept for ANAF’s identity, from the 12th to the 24th of September, are we including the weekend here?
Let’s not forget about the maximum specified price, which is “58,050.00 Romanian lei without VAT, the equivalent of 13,130.81 euros (NBR exchange rate from 22.07.2013, 1 euro = 4.4209 Romanian lei); respectively 71,982.00 Romanian lei including VAT”.

The seventh observation: If Ms. Udrea’s leaf cost over 800,000 euros and the project lasted a considerable amount of time, how normal is it that developing the new visual identity of the most important tax administration institution, which practically comes into contact with all Romanian citizens, only costs 13,000 euros?

In short:
ANAF, the most important tax administration institution in Romania, wants to undergo a thorough reshape of its visual identity, in order to standardise itself through an identity manual and the reformulation of the web portal, within 15 working days after signing the contract, at a maximum price of 13,130.81 euros. The supplier selection must be made through direct procurement procedure within 12 days, during which the supplier must provide and present concepts (sketches, according to ANAF) for the specified deliverables. This process is developed within a project called “Development of a viable partnership between the National Agency for Fiscal Administration and the direct beneficiaries of the services which it provides – a premise for the efficiency of the public revenue collection system”, co-financed by the European Social Fund and the Operational Programme entitled “Administrative Capacity Development”, for the implementation of the project “Tax awareness and the education of taxpayers”.

My last observation: So far, I have seen dozens of Announcements, Invitations and Specifications issued by various state institutions. With no exception, they are all the same, with the same kind of superficial and unprofessional approach, in total disagreement with those Institutions’ interests. I think that someone should definitely think about the lack of professionalism, competence and even politeness of these institutions, which are funded with our fees, money which is spent on things like these: thus, ruining any possibility of getting real and positive results from this spending.

I can’t help myself: If ANAF treats a direct public procurement, funded with public money and co-financed from European funds, so superficially, how much credit should I grant to the State or to a contract made with the help of a special law passed by the Parliament for the exploitation of Roșia Montană!? I think that people are protesting in the streets because of this kind of approach and behaviour on behalf of the State, more than anything else. And since the state is an abstract notion, but it is made up of those who work in its subsidiaries, how much can I or others trust that these people are actually doing their job properly!? We can’t whatsoever.

At the time I publish the article on the blog, the auction deadline has expired: September 24, 2013.