Exploring state capture country profiles

In a great example of using available contract data and building upon other researchers’ work, Silvia Fierascu looked at the risk of state capture in public procurement over 10 years for all the 28 EU Member States:

In total, Silvia Fierascu used data from 2 million contracts from the Opentenders.eu database to calculate the risks of political and private/business capture in public procurement, using the red flag indicators developed by Fazekas and Kocsis.

Links I Liked [Public Procurement]

1. World Bank starts MOOC on PPPs (French only). Older English version here. I sincerely hope they cover also the downsides of PPPs.

2. 18F publishes beta website with US Government spending. Now if only we would do the same in Europe...

3. Night bus service in Barcelona to be re-tendered (Spanish only). Never understood why the night bus service in Barcelona uses different buses from the day ones. All that capacity sitting idle during the day? Makes no sense.

4. Just Another Paperclip? Rethinking the Market for Complex Public Services. Good report by Gary Sturgess.

5. An Exercise in Underachievement–The UK’s Half-Hearted Half-Measures To Exclude Corrupt Bidders from Public Procurement. Talk is cheap.

Links I Liked [Public Procurement]

1. Public Works Slowdown Following Implementation of the New Italian Public Procurement Code.

2. Public Procurement Single Market scoreboard for 2015 is out. I think Albert has criticised the scoreboard in the past, but there is a measurement I find quite interesting - procedures with a single bidder. The figures for some countries like Poland and Hungary are really telling, but it would be important to know as well what is the percentage of procedures without transparency where that is happening.

3. World Bank Public Procurement Benchmarking: Behind the Numbers. More here.

4. UK’s Ministry of Defence No Closer to Winning the War on Procurement Waste.

5. Public Procurement Trade-offs: Commerciality Versus Corruption. Peter Smith raises some important and obvious points about trade-offs in public procurement. Beware the siren's call for more "negotiations".

Links I Liked [Public Procurement]

1. Company Owned by Former Kotayk Governor Wins 34 Million AMD in "Non-Bid" State Contracts. Oh the joys of lack of transparency and competition.

2. Agency connected to Conservative Party donor receives £3.9m Treasury contracts.

3. Public Procurement Trade-Offs Should Be Acknowledged and Addressed, Not Ignored. Agreed and I have been saying the same for years. Anyone wants to talk about social considerations in procurement?

4. How the GDS is iterating on Digital Outcomes and Specialists.

5. Only a quarter of councils have social value commissioning policy. See 3 above. The Social Value Act is working as intended - social clauses have to be considered, not used. The fact they are not being used more indicates they imply tradeoffs proponents are not willing to address or acknowledge. If there were no tradeoffs they would simply be used a lot more.

Links I Liked [Public Procurement]

1. Evaluation of tenders after the expiry of their validity does not annul tender for EU public contracts (T-553/13). Albert comments on case T-553/13.

2. UK Government spent 27.1% of procurement spend with SMEs. Full dataset here. It is all on the way how you count it: only 10.9% was spent directly with SMEs, the rest came via supply chain arrangements. It makes as much sense as the claims by multinationals that their employees pay a lot of tax on the countries where they operate.

3. UnitingCare, NHS Provider Consortium, Folds and Walks Away from Cambridge Contract. Ohm dear.

4. Court of Appeal overturns conviction of former Portuguese Education Minister in procurement case (Portuguese only). Long story short, Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues awarded €220k worth of services (including legal) to the brother of another Minister. The Audit Court considered the contract illegal and she was found guilty in first instance. However, the Court of Appeal repealed the decision, interpreting the then existing law (Decree-Law 197/99) with a law yet to come into force at the time (Public Contracts Code). This is a great example of why legal services should be subject to the same procurement rules as all other services.

As for the fact the Court of Appeal decided to base its decision on a non-existent law at the time, well maybe they did not even notice the existence of Directive 2004/18 and that Directives generate indirect effect.

5. Corruption And 'Tenderpreneurs' Bring Kenya's Economy To Its Knees. Great writeup by Forbes on corruption in Kenya. Speaking of corruption and transparency.

Links I Liked [Public Procurement]

1. My old job at Bangor University is up for grabs. Excellent place to start an academic career in public procurement...if you are motivated and willing to work very hard. Dermot is a great boss for those first years when we're freshly out of the Ph.D and has that important quality of protecting his team. Limited backstabbing and/or academic bitchiness too.

2. The European Procurement Law Group held its annual meeting earlier this week at Birmingham University. Thank you Martin Trybus for the warm welcome. The next book in our series (about qualification, selection and exclusion) is coming along nicely and we have some news to share in the near future. PS: Some of my colleagues have contributed case reviews for Concurrences e-Bulletin.

3. Some news about corruption in public procurement in Greece.

4. New Commission initiative to kickstart procurement of innovation. I remain sceptical that raising awareness is what is needed to get more (public) procurement of innovation. It has never been a problem of "tools" either. My view is that it comes down to (lack of) incentives and (lack of) risk tolerance, not to mention (lack of) money.

5. Someone does not like "open" procurement rules. Someone should read the rules with care and attention.

Links I Liked [Public Procurement]

1. Nice podcast about public procurement, from 2014. And no, it's not mine. Speaking of which, episode #3 with Frank Brunetta (Canadian Procurement Ombudsman) is now up.

2. The weird and wonderful world of local authority procurement. My Society looks like a very interesting project.

3. New Mistery Shopper results. And more importantly, apparently compliance is now mandatory for some (all?) contracting authorities in England and Wales since the Small Business Enterprise and Employment act came into force (Regulation 41). Also known as "assisting investigations." Oh, the euphemisms...

4. The World Bank is finally disclosing the identity of procurement contract winners. Say what you may about disclosing too much information after a tendering procedure, but not even disclosing the identity of the winning bidder smells beyond fishy. More about public contracts awardees information here (speculative).

5. Porto jumped into the bandwagon of "procurement infused" design contests. I am a sucker for innovation initiatives like this, but my usual concerns remain: i) intellectual property; ii) lock in; iii) design contests are not the right approach as they split R&D from procurement. Website for project here (Portuguese only).

Links I Liked [Public Procurement]

1. Are urban developments subject to procurement rules (or at least principles)?

Good case report by Paul Henty. I remember vividly a discussion back in 2007/8 with my then Ph.D supervisor about how come development contracts are not considered relevant for the internal market and as such subject to EU rules? My overarching point is that procurement rules should cover not only the buying strictu sensu but also contracts where money flows the other way around. I posed the same question in 2005 or 2006 to the team then drafting the Portuguese Public Contracts Code (which regulates procurement above and beyond EU requirements) about similar land deals after witnessing first hand some trainwreck examples of horrible practice.

2. PPP trouble dans la France

Again, I remember another discussion (this time in 2009) sponsored by the Commission where PPPs were being bandied around as the best thing since sliced bread. Being a killjoy I argued that they have significant issues such as information asymmetry, regulator capture and the like, problems we saw in Portugal. One of the respondents happened to be the head of the PPP observatory in France who remarked drily that "the Portuguese have no idea how to run PPPs." Oh, well...

3. Should we have Procurement Ombudsmen in Europe like Canada does?

I think so, and have defended it since 2012. In some countries (UK, Ireland) there are not enough legal challenges in procurement, whereas in others (Portugal, Spain), whole court systems have ground to an halt due to an avalanche of procurement related cases.

4. How good (and EU compliant) is the Slovakian procurement law?

Not much it appears, but I will reserve passing judgement until I talk with some local colleagues.