Public Contracts Regulations 2015 - Regulation 82

Regulation 82 - Decisions of the jury

Regulation 82 defines the role the jury of a design contest needs to follow in its decision making. I find this provision very interesting for a sole fact: the anonymity of the candidates is supposed to be kept until a final decisions has been reached (paragraphs 2 and 4). Why is that important?

It has been well established in the literature (as my wife would say) that knowing the identity of a candidate leads to bias in the decision-making process. If we believe in advance that candidate X is good, we will be more inclined to give said candidate a free pass on mistakes or even be tempted to give the candidate a higher mark. This is the fundamental reason why UK academia has established a principle of anonymous marking (i.e., the lecturer does not know the student's identity).*

For me, this principle should be prevalent in all public procurement decisions except where negotiations are involved, but even then we should clearly separate selection stage decision makers from the ones judging the tenders. My view is that the same principle applies: if in the selection stage an evaluator gives a good marking, by and large at the tender stage said evaluator will be inclined to do the same on the tender. This is an area of research I want to invest some of my time in the future.

One may argue that on a design contest the issue is more prevalent due to the "star power" of say certain architects or engineering firms. That is true, but we are talking only about different levels of intensity of the effect, not different effects altogether. 

Albert's entry is here.

* The irony of this is that when the same academia is assessing itself instead of students, as it does every 4/5 years with the Research Excellence Framework all these logic and sound decision-making afeguards go out the window...