School Furniture Procurement
Fundo Nacional de Desenvolvimento da Educação

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The National Fund for Education Development (Portuguese Acronym: FNDE), a Brazilian Autarchy, is, since 2005, in charge of procurement processes for the Ministry of Education (MEC). Before that date, bidding procedures were done by each federative entity, whenever they needed. That old practice had indeed a number of problems. Above all, there was a considerable risk of a procurement failure, because of lack of preparation for the process. This encompasses many stages, such as: funding and purchase planning; product specification analysis; price negotiation; legal analysis of the bidding: inventory system; and quality control, just to name the most important steps. It was quite often a small and poor township, which conducted such a purchasing process. That was a challenge, once it is not common to find in those places trained personnel in the subject, for instance. Communities like those had therefore a reduced purchase power, which does not allow them to get a competitive price. This only helped to increase the chance of a rent extraction. An inventory control of the acquired goods was done (if so) with no specific parameters, and quality control was given by the industries themselves, for the goods which already had that for granted. It is not surprising to find out how big was the risk of a bidding being considered not valid or still duplicitous. Given this scenery, Brazilian public schools in those municipalities (as well as in poorer areas of wealthier cities) were far from suitably furnished and equipped. That shortage enhanced a vicious cycle, too, where social inequality was heightened. School furniture is an input for a better educational setting. A relevant issue for a suitable cognitive environment, it was mostly offered in only one size, or simply adapted from regular, second-hand furnishing. It was made basically of plywood, which is not a resistant material (particularly when one considers it has to last many years). Finally, a sound ergonomic concern was not taken into consideration. So, public schools faced a problem, where it was hard to have a remedy. How to offer better conditions in schools, given the lack of proper funding, expertise and equipment? How to provide better conditions, in order to minimize the social and educational gap, throughout the whole country?

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The initiative is about offering a high-quality and ergonomic school furniture, via an electronic bidding process, where every municipality in Brazil can afford and buy those to public educational facilities. With a previous buying experience, related to school furniture, and the possibility of holding the design of school chairs, desks and tables, included for disabled, given by FDE (Educational Development Foundation), FNDE procurement staff, with the Ministry of Education, decided to attempt for a way of delivering school furniture in proper and good conditions to public schools. This is the initiative main objective, and it goes together with some others, such as: 1) better equipping of goods in Brazilian public schools: once unfortunately many of the Brazilian public schools were precariously equipped (especially those in impoverished areas), having the right infrastructure and goods does not mean only improving their conditions, but struggling for minimizing the inequality gap, still so strong in Brazil; 2) reduction of the final price for municipalities: this represents in special a chance to have access to educational goods, connected to other social policies; 3) possibility of a national participation in an electronic tendering procedure: with a bidding established nationwide, chances are of economies of scale, and price reduction; 4) a better standardization of school furnishing: it provides improved human factors for wellbeing; 5) deliver to municipalities of the goods bought by them, with quality and ergonomic measures: this is conferred by samples, throughout Brazil. Its strategy has a preparation process, where there is: a) a market study, in order to know more about the school cabinetwork industry, price research, among others; b) a public hearing, one of the central phases, given its consultation and transparent characteristics. Aspects as price, materials and use are extensively discussed; c) the bidding itself, done on line, and with information available to every stakeholder; d) the use of its Minute, with townships and other public entities taking advantage of the prices announced; e) the contracts done among those entities and the providers. It is important to record FNDE manages this process, and does not buy itself (or provides funds) to any of them; f) the quality control, done via a prototype building, as well as an ex post control, done randomly. There is a consideration also that the price for each chair, desk and table should be unique, for the whole country. Moreover, they should be ergonomic, comfortable and proper to those, who many times had second-hand furniture in impoverished educational facilities. Among target audiences, the primary one has definitely to do with the students. With the possibility of acquiring chairs and desks in many different sizes, the initiative is valuable from preschool to high school levels. Students and professionals of education in wheelchairs are here also contemplated. This is part of an inclusive approach, specified by the Ministry of Education, and in accordance to social policies. There are also tables for teachers. A secondary target audience would be the federal entities, which are able to purchase goods more efficiently. In some cases (mostly municipalities), it would be otherwise very challenging to have proper products. Finally, it is relevant to mention an indirect consequence, connected to providers. The initiative provided to them a chance of dealing with a new market niche, with high-quality school furniture pieces.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The School Furniture Program conceived a new possibility for delivery. Taking advantage from a tendering methodology developed by FNDE itself, the Autarchy provided a way where municipalities, schools and other public institutions can purchase ergonomic furnishing, made partly with recycled materials. Equipment offered was quite comprehensive, indeed. There is the possibility for various sizes of chairs and desks, beyond a table for disabled in wheelchairs and a table for teachers. The process struggles for a better price, on a continuous mode. It managed to become more efficient, from its start. But efficiency is not its unique goal. In its structure, it is established also that the provider has to deal with wealthier and poorer places, when delivering the products. Finally, partnership is another issue which makes this initiative distinctive. FNDE usually enhances long-term partnerships with specialists. Because of the school furniture considerable volume already bought in procurement processes, the Autarchy motivated a Standardization Agency, INMETRO, to issue a legislation, where standards done in the biddings are now mandatory for the whole industry in Brazil. This indicates the possibility of a real transformation in fair distribution of high-quality and safe products.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
When FNDE was still working with the procurement for the school buses, in 2008, it had access to a school furniture bidding, which happened in the state of São Paulo. That was run by FDE (Educational Development Foundation), a similar agency as FNDE. Therefore, this first moment already provided the idea for a national tendering, for public schools. By the signature of a Technical Agreement between both institutions, on 24 March 2009, this Autarchy had access to FDE design material, ergonomic measures for different sizes of school chairs and desks, beyond tables for disabled students and teachers. At that moment, FNDE hired an important research center, for a market study. It was seen thus the furniture industry is organized in clusters and had traditional techniques. This already represented a challenge, but FNDE published anyway an edict, where providers would have to transport the products to a closer place of themselves, respecting the industry reality. However, the product to be delivered had to be the same, in the whole country. Among the actions taken and implemented steps, some deserve to be highlighted, as it follows: a) In March 2009, FNDE signed a technical agreement with FDE, about school furnishing design. b) FNDE hired FGV for a study market. That, in April 2009, analyzed the furniture industry and Brazil, and proposed tendering possibilities. It took into consideration big and small firms, and locations where products should be sent, among others. c) In the same period, FNDE did a public hearing, where representatives from the furniture industry, the Municipalities´ Union (UNDIME), FGV and MEC discussed about the conceptual model, with its furnishing quality, delivery and price issues. d) The edict was released, and the procurement happened in June 2009. The average price, around U$ 78.00, was already slightly smaller than what was available on market. This was possible due to its potential economies of scale. Winners should provide prototypes, in order to have them as touchstone for the products to be delivered. e) Municipalities, schools, and other federative and public institutions could then take advantage of the Tender Minute, in order to join and establish the amount to be bought. This happened during 2010. f) The provider manufactures the furniture piece, and delivers it to the buyer. g) INMETRO, the national standardization agency, analyzes randomly the equipment to be delivered, in order to check if that is in accordance to established parameters, in terms of safety, ergonomics and materials used. The methodology was useful also to improve certain aspects of the own process. The next buying, in 2011, came with design improvements. In 2012, INMETRO established as mandatory those ergonomic aspects, for the whole country. This shows the quality achieved by FNDE, when offering those products to public educational facilities. At last, it is worth taking a look at FNDE school furniture biddings webpage ( It is possible to see that the Autarchy bidding processes have been improving. This happens especially in terms of product quality and other equipment pieces, but there are also the guidelines for the municipalities and the providers, so they can use FNDE system related to procurements (SIGARP).

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Considering a policy like that, with sound federative issues, it is natural to find many stakeholders involved. In the civil service, together with FNDE, there was the Ministry of Education. From there, the former Minister, Mr. Fernando Haddad, and his Executive Secretary, Mr. Henrique Paim, supported the initiative from the beginning. From FNDE itself, its former president, Mr. José Freitas, was at that time in charge of the public tendering department. Other public institutions participated, as well, as the Foundation for Educational Development, from São Paulo state. It dealt with the school furniture design, and it provided its data to FNDE. Associated to material and quality control, there was INMETRO, too. Related to standards, there was also a non-profit organization, the Brazilian National Standards Organization (Portuguese acronym: ABNT), which represents the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in the country. Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV), a respected public administration center, examined the furniture industry in Brazil. For the procurement, there were many providers from the that industry in Brazil, among them the most representative ones. And, as buyers, there came roughly two-thirds of the municipalities, all Brazilian States, beyond parent & teacher associations and universities.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The financial resources used for the strategy building came straight from FNDE regular budget. For the procurement itself, concerning the municipalities which take part on them, the Ministry of Education provides some funding, which can be used in biddings as those. However, this does not happen every time for every good to be acquired. This possibility occurs only whenever there is a previous planning, and it is proper only for definite goods. Besides that, towns have to possess a positive fiscal situation, for having the right to apply to those resources. Regarding human resources, those came also from the Autarchy. Other institutions contributed with their technical staff, too, as FDE, FGV, MEC and INMETRO. Technological means are part of the initiative from the start, once tenderings are done nowadays on line, via a Ministry of Planning webpage ( However, another important system for the process was added to the process, from 2011 on. It managed to grasp the same steps as before, but electronically. Thus, from the moment entities take advantage of the procurement price register minute, they can go on line and start their buying processes. The system is called Price Register Management System (in Portuguese, “Sistema de Gestão de Atas de Registro de Preços” – SIGARP, homepage: This system, once more, was developed by FNDE technologic staff with its own budget. There, every stakeholder of the process, from the public area and the private sector take part. All of this, seen as a whole, shows certainly efficiency. Moreover, it comes together with a committed attitude for making a public policy work. It is relevant at last to remember that the private sector came voluntarily to the public hearings, contributing for the synergy of this initiative.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
First of all, an exceptional output has to do with efficiency, which passes through the whole procedure. From the moment there is a single national and centralized bidding, there takes place also economies of scale, compared to many administrative processes, with their corresponding effort and costs. And this is taking into consideration only the bureaucratic side. When one thinks about the product price itself, efficiency is certainly there. Given the national scope, providers can offer a cheaper final price. This happened, indeed, since the first school furniture procurement. The average price was around U$ 78.00, slightly smaller than what the market then offered (around U$ 80.00). Nowadays, prices go on falling: the average price so far for the furniture pieces, once the current bid-bond is still running, is about U$ 72.00. Transparency is another point. Not only has it demonstrated the rightness of the initiative, but it provides also conditions to every institution to learn it by seeing and taking part. This makes the path smoother, in special to those organizations which do not have the best conditions (financial and administrative) to carry a tendering process on. Besides, transparency provides elements for everyone to make suggestions and monitor, as well. This last one is especially available in some phases, as: during the bidding itself (; after it, when institutions take advantage of price register minute bidding (, and for other news or even past buyings ( A high-quality and ergonomic furniture is another important achievement. The equipment provided is built strictly following human factor parameters. It is offered in diverse sizes, and proper materials. The initiative demands a prototype, for comparison purposes and for working as a touchstone. And it costs at the present time cheaper than an alike furniture, which used to be sold to schools before this initiative – and without the same present excellence, nonetheless. Moreover, this initiative gave conditions for another electronic bidding, related to cradles and mattresses to public school nurseries. Finally, an important soft skill comes out; partnership building, and its enhancing in the long term. When public institutions work together, they are able to develop a further practice improvement. The soundest example is the norm published by INMETRO. Because of it, school furniture has to be produced following strict parameters. This means, above of all, safety for everyone.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The initiative can be supervised mostly through a system, linked to FNDE tenderings. It is called Price Register Management System (in Portuguese, “Sistema de Gestão de Atas de Registro de Preços” – SIGARP). This is an online space where stakeholders, as federative entities (States, the Federal District and Municipalities), public schools, associations, public institutions, providers of goods and services and FNDE deal with the buying process. SIGARP has the primary goal of carrying out the management of Price Register minutes, organized by this agency. There, applications of federative entities, after the bidding, start to be analyzed. After their approval (considering legal and funding conditions), there is the contract signature between the public institution and the provider, as well as the product delivery. FNDE role is handling the practice. It is possible to have other organizations participating, too, in the tendering process. In this situation, cash transfers from the Ministry of Education are not allowed. That can go only to federative entities, which have shown an educational plan and have their fiscal situation in accordance to the law. However, it is always feasible paying with own resources. The system shows the process of each public buying on real-time mode. It is possible to see there when and how many school furnishing sets were bought. This can be seen in past biddings, as currently. It enables also reports, as for time period and participant entity. And it has a Public Consultation link ( Information is displayed there only in Portuguese, but it is possible for anyone to follow the performance of a tender course, concerned, for instance, to a specific range of date. SIGARP shows that during 2013, from January until November, more than 8,000 acquired sets of school furniture, throughout the country. Total purchases authorized for the first half of the year to date is U$ 0.5 billion. The Northeast Region, the one in Brazil which unfortunately traditionally holds the worst social indicators, is currently participating with almost 30% of the buying. The current tendering goes until August 2014. Also, concerning the furnishing quality, it is presently being prepared a group for appraising this, with lay evaluators from FNDE staff. In addition to those traditional tests, as material resistance, done by INMETRO and alike agencies, they will visit factories and distributing places, for checking products, in terms of size, for instance. This will make available another possibility of monitoring.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
At its beginning, the initiative had some assistance, once FDE, from São Paulo, transferred its design, via a technical agreement. The procurement strategy was already established, too, and having the process done let it show some advantages, as well as it pointed out to differences related to the offer of another good. Moreover, because of the volume of acquisitions, and also the stronger need of handling with those, made FNDE creating a system in 2011, where all steps for the requesting could be done on line, instead via mail, as before. The furniture industry, on its side, had to suffer adaptations. For instance, it had to deal with logistic issues, when delivering to facilities, many times quite distant from its industry place. In 2012, too, providers had to start adapting themselves to offer that in accordance to the ergonomic measures for school equipment, which became mandatory for the sector production area, since last September. Beyond that, it is valuable to mention the effort of FNDE personnel, who many times learn by doing important issues. As written before, with the aid of an expert, FNDE is training its staff, in order to be able to make a non-specialist analysis. There is even some news concerning this at The group will present reports, in which there will be the product conformity analysis. With this, it is feasible to perceive the staff members commitment, who try to apprehend the public buying cycle, with and its social consequences.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The initiative changed the possibilities of offering high-quality furniture to students of all ages, people who use wheelchairs, and teachers. This was possible via a procurement system developed by FNDE, where federative participants (especially impoverished townships), which traditionally faced difficulties when acquiring inputs, are able to purchase them and have a better support for their social policies. Other benefits came out from this procedure. Partnership building can be considered a soft skill gain, which was successfully achieved. Among concrete examples, there is for instance the issue of the Technical Agreement between FNDE and FDE, published on the official midia on 25 March 2009, related to design furniture. And this is not only about the equipment, which is an object of this application, but that also aided the bidding related to cradles and mattresses to public school nurseries. There is too the regulation published by INMETRO, on 06 March 2012. It is established that, from next 2014 March on, suppliers can only deliver certified school cabinetwork into the market. Because of the potential volume of sales represented by that is quite significant, the current practice was capital in establishing a new parameter for those. Considering the volume to be hold in a bidding procedure, efficiency is another expected gain. And this certainly happened. From its very first moment, prices lowered down, with an average price of U$ 78.00, against U$ 80.00 – the market average, then. It goes on like this. The current bidding has an average price for the school furnishing of U$ 72.00. It might get even lower, once that will be running until mid-2014. The quantity obtained has, on the other hand, increased. This points out to its acceptability, among the stakeholders and the beneficiaries, as well. From one million of pieces acquired and delivered during the first buying procedure, it is expected currently to boost that to something around between 4 or 5 million. So far, 2 million pieces in 2013 have been already acquired. That growing showed how (more) challenging the management of this process could be. However, with the use of an online tool, SIGARP, developed by FNDE, this became feasible. The use of price register by the system happens much more rapidly than when done before. A process which would take in average some weeks before can be done nowadays in a maximum period of two weeks. This system points out simultaneously to transparency, something very important to FNDE. SIGARP has a public consultation mode, and anyone can check information from there, concerning the Autarchy´s biddings. It is possible to visualize the amount purchased by each public institution. And, if one think of municipalities, the most representative group in this system, it is interesting to compare what one considered wealthier and another one, on the opposite situation, have done. For instance, based on the 2013 Human Development Report, which provides an Index for countries, states, and cities, it is possible to see for example that Florianopolis, the third Brazilian wealthiest city (index of 0.847), has bought this year 800 school sets. In a more detailed way, this would be: 200 chairs and desks for preschool size “03”; 300 for elementary (size “04“); and another 300 tables for teachers, following the strictest ergonomic standards. This can be seen at On the other hand, there is the municipality considered to be the poorest in the country, Melgaço, in northern Brazil. It has an index of 0.418. For the same period of year, it has bought: 900 school sets size “3”; 660 school sets, size “4”; 2,115 school sets, size “6”; 105 tables for teachers; and 61 tables for people who use wheelchair. That is available at Therefore, it is possible to realize the impact of the existing procedure. Both could use direct transfers, from the federal government, but emphasis is on those which do not have the best conditions for educational inputs acquisition, beyond the students´ needs. And it is worth stating it is the same furniture, with the same price. We are happy to say at last that this initiative, which was always concerned with equity, has become bigger than all of its steps, when assembled together.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The current initiative is quite sustainable, and in many ways. First of all, it demands funds for carrying it on only from the own autarchy. Once the buying process can be centrally done, and it shows economies of scale, it is efficient for the Autarchy, as well as for every participant. Besides that, most of the process can be done on line. As written, FNDE developed a tool, the Price Register Management System, where the biddings can be joined by diverse public entities, as universities, ministries, state secretariats, townships and schools via Internet. This accomplished not only to have a more timely and quicker course for all of them, but more sustainable, too. With this system, the amount of documents which are not printed and sent by mail is considerable. And this is quite significant, with a procedure which has more users, whenever there is a new edict of it. It is worth to mention the institutional culture FNDE holds. With a strong aim on transparency, every step of it can be checked out at the webpage Bidding Electronic Gateway, from the Autarchy ( - in Portuguese). From there, it is possible to realize how much the initiative has in common with others, as well as one can see its specificities. FNDE enables also regulations, mostly together with the Ministry of Education. However, an important one was issued by INMETRO in 2012, and related to its technical partnership with the Autarchy. Due to the representative volume bought by municipalities, the standardization agency issued a regulation, where ergonomic measures for school sets are since September of this year mandatory for the whole country. This is available at (in Portuguese). Regarding the school sets themselves, their inner shelf, for books, should contain recycled material in its composition (around 50%). And, as a final point, it is important to point out the program generated other possibilities for bidding. Since this year, FNDE started to manage a procurement for cradles and mattresses, for public school nurseries, nationwide. It is projected in its recent edict 40,000 cradles and 26,000 mattresses to be bought by the schools.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Among the lessons learned, some are already done, and they have to go on being reinforced. They have to do with the need of strengthening partnership, for instance. Because of the design technic transfer from FDE/SP, this Autarchy was able to establish a process which is nationwide. And, this has also instigated to issue a regulation and to establish mandatory ergonomic measures for school furnishing sets within the country, via Ordinance INMETRO no. 105/2012. Another issue comes from the bidding methodology FNDE was able to develop. School furniture happened to be the reiteration attempt of it, after the school transportation system (buses and bicycles). It proved to be successful, making path to other schooling input biddings. Nowadays, FNDE deals with more than 20 processes as those. All of them are available at the Autarchy website, at the “Bidding Electronic Gateway”. Nevertheless, buses and school furniture are still among the most demanded goods from municipalities and schools through this methodology. Efficiency is another significant lesson, once prices have been declining since the school furniture first bidding. The average price was U$ 78.00, U$ 5.00 dollars more expensive than currently. That first price was, on its turn, cheaper than the average market price at that time (around U$ 80.00), accordingly to Getúlio Vargas Foundation study. An important learning for the market is that it is possible to offer a high-quality product for a more efficient price, for schools throughout Brazil. The design which was transferred by FDE has also interesting aspects, related to ergonomics and accessibility. Because of that, more options and better conditions are given to Brazilian students of public schools. Equity issues have proved to be effective, too. Data available shows that a considerable demand, buying and delivery share are done in the North and the Northeast, the geographic Brazilian regions which traditionally hold among the worst social indicators in Brazil. Last, related to social indicators, it is important to state the last educational census points out to a better educational flow at the public schools, and to a strong enrollment at the first years at school. FNDE is currently trying to keep up aligned with those aspects, working even closer to the Ministry of Education, trying to be more effective in the educational scenario.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Fundo Nacional de Desenvolvimento da Educação
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Leilane Barradas
Title:   Administrative Director  
Telephone/ Fax:   55 61 2022 4803
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Setor Bancário Sul, Quadra 2, Bloco F, Edifício FNDE
Postal Code:   70070-929
City:   Brasília
State/Province:   DF

          Go Back

Print friendly Page