An e-learning package to help central government procurement professionals prevent bid-rigging and other anti-competitive conduct has been created by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Crown Commercial Service (CCS).
The module, which should take no more than 40 minutes to complete, helps professionals to identify signs of bid-rigging or collusion on price among the businesses that have been invited to bid in competitive tenders.
They will also learn why bid-rigging is so harmful, how to spot suspicious activities and patterns of behaviour and what to do if they suspect collusion.
The practice usually drives up prices by removing genuine competition between bidders and can lead to fines and liability for damages for companies, as well as criminal sanctions for individuals.
In 2013-2014, the UK public sector spent £242bn on procurement of goods and services and figures from the CMA suggest that cartels, of which bid-rigging forms a part, tend to overcharge by up to 30 per cent.
“It is vital that taxpayers’ money is spent well on projects that are of benefit to the public, rather than costs being pushed up unfairly by bid-rigging,” said John Kirkpatrick, senior director of research, intelligence and advocacy at the CMA.
“We hope this e-learning package will prove to be a very useful tool for procurers in helping them spot and prevent attempts to rig procurement processes."
Ian Mackie, head of commercial learning and development at the CCS, added that increasing commercial capability is a priority skills area for the civil service.
“Hosting this on the CCS Learning Hub and the commercial curriculum will enhance the contract management learning that is already available to staff,” he said.