Procurement tool targets bid-rigging cheats

BRISTOL, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 27:  In this photo illustration pound coins are stacked in front of a twenty pound note on November 27 2008 in Bristol, England. Many UK consumers are feeling the pinch as the financial crisis and economic downturn makes borrowing harder and more expensive and the recession starts to bite.  (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Procurers are set to better equipped to stop bid-rigging and save taxpayers’ and businesses’ money with the launch of an e-learning package, the government has announced.

The tool helps procurers and supply chain professionals understand why bid-rigging is harmful, learn how to spot tell-tale signs that suggest a bid may be illegal, deal with suspect bids and know where to go for further help.

The package, which was created by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Crown Commercial Service, is being made available to their members by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) and the Local Government Association (LGA).

The CMA is also writing an open letter to procurers to explain the issues and draw their attention to the new tool and has produced a 60-second summary and video to provide further information and advice.

In 2013/14 the UK public sector spent £242 billion on procurement of goods and services, of which around £60 billion is spent by local government. Evidence suggests that cartels – of which bid-rigging forms a part – overcharge by up to 20%.

John Kirkpatrick, CMA senior director advocacy, said: “Bid-rigging can cost taxpayers and consumers many millions of pounds. This e-learning package will help procurers spot cases and root out attempts to cheat before they cause any damage.

“The CMA has a hotline which people can call if they suspect cases of bid-rigging or other anti-competitive practice, so I urge anyone with doubts to call.”

David Noble, group CEO of CIPS, said the tool would be useful for anyone responsible for public money to reduce fraud and corruption in the procurement process. “This is too important an issue to allow these bad behaviours to colour the good that sound procurement and supply chain management brings to the public sector,” he said.

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