The Working Paper systematically traces the relationship between the regulations governing tenders and the anti-corruption legislation to provide a key to understanding the erratic regulatory choices made in the public procurement sector.
The various contributions largely tend to share the underlying view that a thorough review of the functioning of public procurement is necessary as it has long been under strain because of a regulatory framework that is complex, unstable and that pays little interest to making processes efficient, of the latent risks of corruption and of the operational challenges faced by public administration.
The specific objective of the Working Paper is, therefore, to identify the proper balance between the demands of legality and those of efficiency through a rational streamlining of administrative procedures, preparation of contracting authorities, professional development and full digitalization of the sector.
The analysis focuses mainly on international comparisons, the transposition of European directives into national law, and contradictions in recent regulatory developments. This volume examines the main tools used in combating corruption, both under the general regulatory framework and that regarding tenders specifically, and includes an examination of the administrative case law. The legislative picture that emerges, with regard to prevention as well as suppression, is one of a system of communicating vessels in which each factor has an effect on the level of protection.
The authors conclude that the best way to improve the public procurement sector is through the virtuous development, incentivized by the regulations, of organizational quality standards for contracting authorities, full digitalization and the widespread use of technology, the nurturing of a culture of ethics and legality, and the training of public sector managers.
The approach proposed seeks to avoid adherence to mere formalistic rigour or, in reaction to the lengthening of tender times, to taking the short cut of ad hoc exceptions, especially for those phases in which it is necessary to focus fully on the resumption of economic activity.
Although the authors are aware of the inconsistencies revealed in the regulatory framework, the overall conclusion is that, especially given the experience of the COVID-19 public health crisis, a non-invasive regulatory framework, high-quality public structures and efficient operating processes can be the best tools for greatly improving the level of legality, and especially the efficacy, of public spending.