Bernard Hoekman, Anirudh Shingal, Varun Eknath, Viktoriya Ereshchenko, 25 November 2020

A prominent feature of the public policy response to COVID-19 has been the active use of trade policy instruments to enable access to essential supplies. This column finds the use of export restrictions targeting medical products to be strongly positively correlated with characteristics of prevailing public procurement regimes. Membership of trade agreements encompassing public procurement disciplines is associated with actions to facilitate trade in medical products. These findings suggest that future empirical assessments of trade policy drivers during the pandemic should consider the role of national public procurement systems and deep trade agreements.

Erica Bosio, Simeon Djankov, Edward Glaeser, Andrei Shleifer, 05 November 2020

Discretion in public procurement allows public officials to pursue socially and economically optimal procurement outcomes, but it also increases the possibility of corruption. This leads to a trade-off between allowing greater discretion and preventing corruption in public procurement. Using survey data on public procurement law and practices from 187 countries in 2019, this column investigates this trade-off. It finds that regulation is helpful when government efficiency is low, and harmful when it is high.

Erica Bosio, Marko Grujicic, Maksym Iavorskyi, 25 September 2020

A trade-off between quality and speed/cost in public procurement regulation is often seen as a challenge for legislators. This column analyses data from 187 economies and finds that this trade-off is not supported by the data. In fact, there is a positive correlation between quality and efficiency of public goods and services. The strong correlation suggests that certain features of governments produce good results across different services.

Lucian Cernat, Zornitsa Kutlina-Dimitrova, 16 April 2020

The Trump administration is reportedly dissatisfied with international public procurement and the benefits derived from the US membership of the WTO Government Procurement Agreement. This column argues that US estimates of a huge deficit with the EU in government procurement misrepresent the level of EU openness by only looking at the ‘tip of the procurement iceberg’. In these critical times, improving the factual basis and the data reporting processes to ensure that all GPA members are fully informed about the benefits of international public procurement openness is more important than ever. 

Vitezslav Titl, Benny Geys, 13 January 2019

Despite public concerns about the role and influence of big donors on politics, questions remain regarding the mechanisms behind political favouritism to donor corporations. Using 2006–2014 data on political donations and public procurement allocations in the Czech Republic, this column finds that firms that increase their donations to a political party see the value of their public procurement contracts rise in the following year. Contracting authorities appear to engage in different forms of strategic behaviour to favour corporate donors, who tend to face fewer competitors in more regulated and open procurement procedures.

Patrick Messerlin, Sébastien Miroudot, 07 September 2012

Public spending on large-scale projects is often a way of sneaking in protectionism through the back door and there are many cases of outright corruption. With the EU and US pushing hard for more open public procurement elsewhere in the world, this column asks just how open these markets are, particularly in the EU, which claims to have the most open market in the world.

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