This guide provides a basic introduction for government officials, civil society groups and the private sector on eliminating corruption risks in public procurement. It is intended to inform and guide participants in public procurement, as well as civil society groups, on what can be done to strengthen the procurement process against corruption and its damaging effects.
Procurement is a complicated and sometimes opaque process, through which a large, if not the largest, percentage of public money is spent. Worldwide, procurement spending averages between 13 per cent and 20 per cent of gross domestic product. Every year an estimated average of US$9.5 trillion of public money is spent by governments through public procurement. With such vast sums at stake, few government activities create greater temptations or offer more opportunities for corruption than public sector procurement.
Corruption in public procurement means public funds are wasted on an enormous scale, and the benefits these funds should have brought are lost. Taxpayers’ money to pay for hospital equipment, books for schools or safer roads, for example, ends up sitting in the pockets of the corrupt. The European Commission calculated that in the Member States around €120 billion3 (around US$163 billion) is lost each year to corruption – only marginally less than the European Union’s total annual budget.