Expert report: Review on Communication Toolboxes Suitable for Government Agency Usage (PEN-CP-2020-ER2)


Customs innovation networks like the Pan-European Network of Customs Practitioners (PEN-CP, H2020 project, years 2018-23, rely on efficient communications that allow customs experts from all around Europe to exchange information with one another. This Expert Report is about exploring different communication platforms and toolboxes that are available on the markets today.

The need for efficient, effective, user-friendly, and affordable communications has never been higher, not least because of the social distancing and travel restrictions set by the COVID-19 pandemic. One should also keep in mind the information sensitivity – both security as well as commercial – aspects of Customs communications.

GoToMeeting, Webex, LinkedIn, and Whatsapp are examples of popular communication and networking tools and applications, with certain potential use in the frame of “European Customs cross-border communications”. However, no de facto solutions, neither single ones nor combinations of two or more, are known to be in use today.

Goal of the Expert Report

The Expert Report should shed light on the following topics:

  • What kind of communication tools and platforms exist on the markets today?
  • What are the features and functions, which are likely to be introduced over the next 1-2 years?

The work is done in the context of the “Preliminary features and functions” listed below; to be finetuned in (web)discussions between the selected Expert and action leaders from the PEN-CP consortium. The outcomes of the Expert Report will be presented and discussed in a broader PEN-CP web-meeting once the report has been finalized.

Features and functions relevant to the customs community

Based on a preliminary User requirement collection, carried out during Year 1 Annual Event of the PEN-CP network (November 2019), customs administrations would find following features and functionalities to be useful for the future Communication tools and platforms:

  1. Videoconferencing
  2. Screen sharing
  3. Instant messaging
  4. Secure system compatible with several interfaces, i.e., computers, mobile phones, tablets, etc.
  5. Directory of users with basic information, such as the country and the area of expertise of the user.
  6. Collaborative editing of documents
  7. Possibility to create thematic groups where customs officers can join. In such a group, each person should receive notifications when a message is posted in the system. The notification settings should be customizable.
  8. Ability to tag a person or an organization, so that you particularly ask a question to someone and receive a direct response.
  9. Automated transcription, voice recognition, and translation of transcripts and documents.
  10. Calendar with all the events/calls of the groups as well as the notes and documents from the meeting.
  11. Link the system with virtual/augmented reality like Google Glasses.

Note: although the requirements listed above are not in strict priority order, one can note that the requirements at the beginning of the list are more important than the last ones.

Tasks to be carried out

  • Identify up to one dozen potential Communication tools and platforms in the markets and write a brief overview on them.
  • Present the list to PEN-CP, and agree on 3 tools/platforms relevant for more detailed analysis
  • Prepare a brief information collection or interview sheet to be used with the 3 tool/platform providers
  • Present the sheet to PEN-CP, and agree on the final questions to ask
  • Contact the Product-Marketing function of the 3 selected tool/ platform providers, and collect the agreed information
  • Compile all information into the final Expert report.

Report structure, length and language

  • Chapter 1. Market overview of Communication tools and platforms
  • Chapter 2. Analysis outcomes with 3 most relevant tools and platforms available in the markets
  • Chapter 3. Recommendations for PEN-CP

The expert report is expected to be 15-20 pages, plus possible annexes. The language for the report should be English

Applicants and application process 

You can apply either as a natural person or as a legal entity (registered company with a VAT ID). In case you are a team of two natural persons, please identify clearly who is the main contact person for contractual purposes. It is also important to note that the call is announced in public and is open for anyone knowledgeable on the topic to apply. In parallel, we do send email invitations to a minimum of three potential experts.

The application process consists of following three steps:

  • Step 1: Applicant expresses his/her interest by sending an email to 
  • Step 2: Applicant receives credentials by email (from PEN-CP) enabling the proposal submission
  • Step 3: Applicant submits the proposal (both technical and cv -sections)

Documents to submit

Submit the following documents as part of your application here:

Submit proposal 


  1. Technical proposal (max 2 pages)
    • Describe the methodology you will use to achieve the goal for this project
    • State a list of planned activities, with a respective time frame (project duration of three months)
    • List the main risks/limitations you foresee with the assignment, with a mitigation plan
  2. CVs of 1-2 experts who will carry out the work, highlighting their past experiences working on similar topic(s).

Evaluation criteria and points (max 100 in total)

  • Criteria 1: The quality of the methodology, project work and risk plan = max 60 points
  • Criteria 2: The relevant past experience of the 1-2 experts included in the proposal = max 40 points
  • Minimum threshold to be considered for selection: Criteria 1 = min 35 points; Criteria 2 = min 25 points


Evaluation and contract signing process

  • Step 1: Evaluation of all applications by scoring and ranking them.
  • Step 2: Selection of the applicant with the highest score and initiation of the contractual process.
  • Step 3: Communication with the non-selected applications of the evaluation results.
  • Step 4: Contracting with the selected applicant.
  • Step 5: Possibility to contact the unsuccessful applicant (if the contract cannot be closed with the selected applicant for appropriate reasons), to suggest contract negotiation (then follow with Step 4)

Dates, contacts and consulting fee

  • Call publication date: 15 September 2020
  • Deadline for proposal submission: 24 November 2020
  • Call results available (expected): 15 December 2020
  • Project start date: Latest on 29 January 2021
  • Project duration: Three months
  • Administrative contact person: Ms Amrita Choudhary, ARTTIC:
  • Consulting fee: 5.900 EUR

Note: PEN-CP reserves rights to make updates on the dates listed above, in case no proposal reaches the minimum threshold