Procurement governance and complex technologies: a promising future?

Thanks to the UK’s Procurement Lawyers’ Association (PLA) and in particular Totis Kotsonis, on Wednesday 6 March 2019, I will have the opportunity to present some of my initial thoughts on the potential impact of complex technologies on procurement governance.

In the presentation, I will aim to critically assess the impacts that complex technologies such as blockchain (or smart contracts), artificial intelligence (including big data) and the internet of things could have for public procurement governance and oversight. Taking the main risks of maladministration of the procurement function (corruption, discrimination and inefficiency) on which procurement law is based as the analytical point of departure, the talk will explore the potential improvements of governance that different complex technologies could bring, as well as any new governance risks that they could also generate.

The slides I will use are at the end of this post. Unfortunately, the hyperlinks do not work, so please email me if you are interested in a fully-accessible presentation format (

The event is open to non-PLA members. So if you are in London and fancy joining the conversation, please register following the instructions in the PLA’s event page.

New Book: G Racca & C Yukins (eds) "Integrity and Efficiency in Sustainable Public Contracts" (Brussels, Bruylant, 2014).

The new book on "Integrity and Efficiency in Sustainable Public Contracts. Balancing Corruption Concerns in Public Procurement Internationally" edited by Profs. Racca and Yukins is now available.

As the editors indicate

Ensuring efficiency and integrity throughout the public procurement cycle is essential to a sound allocation of taxpayers’ money. Yet public contracts are plagued by corruption, collusion, favoritism and conflicts of interest. This book addresses these problems from sophisticated, academic, institutional and practical perspectives.
The book’s ambition is to shape the public debate in the procurement community by highlighting how corruption implies violations of fundamental rights and undermines the fiduciary relationship between citizens and public institutions. The analysis underlines how corruption may stem from - and yet be resolved - through the exercise of discretion in the public procurement system. Focusing on the effects of public corruption and private collusion on procurement integrity, the book marks the features of misconduct and suggests needed counter-measures. The work also emphasizes that the pursuit of efficiency and integrity in public contracts must be rooted in professional skills, and in ethical regulations and training for public officers.
The research reflected in these pieces comes from sources around the world, and offers an excellent foundation for further development of these topics. Expanding on prior research, this volume builds on a more active transnational academic cooperation and exchanges of ideas on integrity in public contracts for the benefit of citizens.
This book is intended as both a textbook and an edited collection and it is available as an e-book too. The authors of the chapters are all specialists in their respective fields, and their different geographical and professional perspectives represent a valuable contribution to the scientific literature.
I have contributed a chapter on “Prevention and Deterrence of Bid Rigging: A Look from the New EU Directive on Public Procurement”, which SSRN version is available here.

#Decency in #publicprocurement could take us out of the #crisis: or how #corruption is making us bleed out

Stories about corruption in public procurement are so common that they have become part of the daily news (and, sadly, a part that tends to receive less and less attention due to routine and tiredness from repetition). However, when one looks at the aggregate data, an immediate need for reaction becomes evident.

As the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs has just emphasised "The Commission's best estimate is that 120 billion euros are lost each year to corruption in the 27 Member States of the EU. That is the equivalent of the whole EU-budget. In public procurement, studies suggest that up to 20- 25% of the public contracts’ value may be lost to corruption.

Given that  public procurement represents around 20% of the GDP in the European Union, a loss of 20% of its value due to corrupt practices of all sorts means that corruption in public procurement costs around 4% of the EU GDP

If we add the fact that, sometimes, corruption is coupled with collusion (or bid rigging), which can generate an increase in prices of approximately 20% (with instances of around 40%), the numbers may be easily brought up to losses due to illegal and indecent behavior representing 40% to 50% of its value--i.e. around 8-10% of GDP.

The power of these facts seems unbeatable and we should all have it now clear in our minds that only decency can save us from the economic crisis.

However we want to run the numbers or reduce them to be conservative in our claims, even a reduction of 50% of the perceived level of corruption would not only avoid most of the cuts being imposed on the budgets for the provision of public services, but it would also allow for a relaxation of tax pressure on individuals and companies, and to provide effective economic incentives to entrepreneurship and innovation. 

Even in clearer terms: addressing the issue of corruption and collusion in procurement would single-handedly bring the EU from recession/depression into economic growth. In this regard, the initiative of the European Commission to move from rhetoric to results in the fight against corruption (in public procurement) in the EU must be echoed, voiced and supported.

This is something we intend to do at workshops B5 and B6 of the Global Revolution VI Conference next June in Nottingham. Suggestions and active participation is encouraged and definitely more than welcome!