Better data needed to drive public procurement reform

29 August 2013

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30 August 2013 | Marino Donati

A lack of data on procurement outcomes in public sector contracts across the EU is hampering reform, according to a report from the Scottish Government.

The report, Public Procurement Reform – a rapid evidence review, examined progress in procurement reform across Europe to help inform the development of the Scottish Government’s own Procurement Reform Bill.

It says measures are needed to improve the limited information on monitoring and evaluation data in procurement.

“The lack of data needs to be tackled as it makes it difficult to be able to determine where and how to target limited resources,” the report said.

Process and outcome evaluations and cost benefit analyses of public sector contracts would help indentify progress in procurement reform, the report concluded. As a result, there is a need to mandate consistent and comparable data gathering across member states.

Barriers existed for SMEs and third sector across the EU to access to public sector contracts, the study also found. Some organisations find it difficult to obtain information, face administrative burdens preparing bids, and are affected by late payments by contracting authorities.

The report suggested dividing contracts into lots, reducing bureaucracy and more use of e-procurement as potential solutions.

The report also indentified measures to tackle inappropriate conduct, poor performing suppliers and crime. These include increasing transparency and publication of awards, improving data/information sharing between the police and procurement, and increasing scrutiny on the companies’ professional competence and financial stability through the whole procurement process and contractual period.

Cultural and behavioural changes on procurement need to be more deeply embedded in organisations, with leaders taking a key role in driving change.

The report concluded: “Across the EU, the current stage of reform is work in progress but the gaps that remain now need to be plugged and a balance needs to be struck between encouraging developments in some areas and enforcing where statements of intent or principle are not enough to ensure action, implementation and behavioural change.”

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