Antitrust Chronicle – Public Procurement

Dear Readers,

The interaction between competition law and public procurement has increasingly been in the international spotlight in recent years. Through competitive public procurement and bidding, governments ideally can procure goods and services at market price (saving public funds), encourage small and medium-sized enterprises, and foster innovation, among other policy goals.

As authors in this month’s edition of the CPI Chronicle note, “governments around the world spend an estimated $9.5 trillion of public money purchasing vital goods and services each year.” Bottom line… its big business.

But the diversity and nature of public procurement regimes in different jurisdictions has the potential to make them prone to distortion through collusion and other wayward conduct. Classic examples of such conduct in the public procurement realm include price fixing, bid rigging (including bid suppression, complementary bidding, bid rotation, subcontracting, etc.), and market allocation schemes. As the OECD notes, “such illegal activity contributes to inflation, destroys public confidence in the country’s economy, and undermines our system of free enterprise. In the case of federal procurement, such crimes increase the costs of government, increase taxes and undermine the public’s confidence in its government.”

This edition of the Chronicle features articles, from the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, and the EU, that examine recent antitrust developments in t

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