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Principles for Enhancing Integrity in Public Procurement

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Practice Advice on Democratic Institutions and Policy Process

Principles for Enhancing Integrity in Public Procurement (OECD)

Description: Governments need to emphasize  good governance throughout the entire procurement cycle, from needs assessment to tender evaluation and post-award contract management.

Commentary: Of all government activities, public procurement is most vulnerable to fraud and corruption. Weak governance in public procurement hinders market competition and raises the price paid by the administration for goods and services, directly impacting public expenditures and taxpayer resources.  The ten principles recommended by the OECD provide governments with guidance in order to achieve value for money, increase transparency and prevent corruption in public procurement. The principles are anchored around four pillars:

Transparency: Providing an adequate degree of transparency in the entire procurement cycle in order to promote fair and equitable treatment for potential suppliers. Maximizing transparency in competitivetendering and taking precautionary measures to enhance integrity.

Good Management: Ensuring that public funds are used in procurement according to the purposes intended. Ensuring that procurement officials meet high professional standards of knowledge, skill and integrity.

Prevention of Misconduct: Putting mechanisms in place to prevent risks to integrity in public procurement. Encouraging close cooperation between government and the private sector to maintain high standards of integrity, particularly in contract management.

Accountability and Control: Establishing a clear chain of responsibility together with effective control mechanisms. Handling complaints from potential suppliers in a fair and timely manner.

  1. Governments must provide an adequate degree of transparency in the entire procurement cycle in order to promote fair and equitable treatment for potential suppliers. The degree of transparency also needs to be adapted according to the recipient of information and the stage of the cycle. In particular, governments should protect confidential information, such as trade secrets of tenderers, to ensure a level playing field.
  2. Governments should maximize transparency in competitive tendering and take precautionary measures to enhance integrity, in particular for exceptions to competitive tendering, such as extreme urgency or national security.
  3. Governments should ensure that public funds are used in procurement according to the purposes intended. The management of public funds should be monitored by internal control and internal audit bodies, supreme audit institutions and/or parliamentary committees.
  4. Governments should ensure that procurement officials meet high professional standards of knowledge, skills and integrity. Just like medical or legal professions, public procurement officials could benefit from well-defined curricula, specialised knowledge, professional certifications and integrity guidelines.
  5. Governments should put mechanisms in place to prevent risks to integrity in public procurement.  Risks to integrity can pertain to potentially vulnerable positions, activities or projects.
  6. Close cooperation should be encouraged between government and the private sector to maintain high standards of integrity, particularly in contract management. Clear integrity standards for the private sector must be set and governments need to follow up to ensure compliance.
  7. Governments should provide specific mechanisms for the monitoring of public procurement and the detection and sanctioning of misconduct. Sanctions should not only be defined by law, but governments must also provide the means for them to be applied in an effective, proportional and timely manner.
  8. Governments must establish a clear chain of responsibility together with effective control mechanisms. The regularity and thoroughness of controls should be proportionate to the risks involved.
  9. Governments should handle complaints from potential suppliers in a fair and timely manner. An independent body with the power to enforce its decisions should rule on procurement decisions and provide adequate remedies.
  10. Governments must empower civil society organisations, media and the wider public to scrutinize public procurement. All stakeholders should be granted access to public information on the key terms of major contracts.

Governments should also develop a checklist for to help procurement officials implement the ten principles.

Source: OECD (2009) “OECD Principles for Integrity in Public Procurement", at: http://www.oecd.org/gov/fightingcorruptioninthepublicsector/48994520.pdf (accessed 4 January, 2013).

Page Created By: Khilola B. Zakhidova and Ben Eisen. Last edited by Ben Eisen 4 June, 2013. The content presented on this page is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases. This material does not necessarily reflect the official view of the publishing organization.

 

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