A Comparative Law Approach
Studies in Comparative Law and Legal Culture series
Edited by Jean-Bernard Auby, Emmanuel Breen and Thomas Perroud
Chapter 7: Integrity in English and French public contracts: Changing administrative cultures?
Public contracts contribute to c.15 per cent of French and English GDP,which make them fertile ground for diverting taxpayers' money away from the common good. When awarding a public contract, a public authority relies on the work of staff to prepare decisions and on elected representatives acting in procurement bid commissions to select bidders. Then the contract has to be performed: goods and services must be delivered and prices paid for these goods and services. In theory, public money has to be spent on goods and services in a way that best contributes to the public good. Normally, competition and equality between the bidders and transparency in the contract award are means to ensure that the chosen bid is the one most able to fulfil this aim. However, corruption may disturb this process: staff may disclose bids to competitors or give more information to some bidders; the award process and selection criteria may be tweaked in a way favorable to one bidder; interpretation in decision-making may be directed towards carrying out bidders' interests instead of the public good; contract performance may intentionally be poorly monitored. Reasons for these courses of action may lie in direct or indirect benefits that staff or elected representatives or their family members obtain, such as securing a better-paid commercial position in the future, pleasing influential friends or funding their future electoral campaigns. In these forms, or related versions,corruption in relation to public contracts is a common problem.
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