ECN Brief

Greece | HCC Helps Public Officials to Detect Cartels in Public Procurement Tenders

Greece | HCC Helps Public Officials to Detect Cartels in Public Procurement Tenders

On 24 September 2014, the Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC) published a "Guide for Public Procurement Authorities: Detection and Prevention of Collusive Practices in Procurement Tenders" (the Guide) in order to enhance the awareness of public officials of bidders’ anticompetitive practices. With this advocacy initiative, the HCC intends to help public officials dealing with public procurement to easily detect collusive behaviour of participants in tendering procedures which distort the efficiency of these procedures. The Guide is written in simple and non-technical language and includes numerous examples and references to case law, in order to assist procurement professionals, especially those without any prior knowledge of competition issues, to understand cartel behaviour in public tenders.


In sections 1 and 2, the Guide introduces readers to anticompetitive conduct in public tenders and to the benefits for consumers of effective competition in this field. Section 3 presents and explains in detail the most common anticompetitive conduct in public procurement tenders i.e. bid rigging, market sharing, quantity restrictions and price fixing. Although these collusive practices are often combined in practice, the Guide adopts a more educational approach and examines them separately, using examples. In section 4, the Guide provides a brief description of the main market characteristics that may facilitate collusive conduct in tendering procedures, i.e. the number of firms, unique products, standardized products, familiarity with tendering procedures and familiarity among competitors. Then, in section 5, the Guide describes a series of leads that may be associated with the operation of an illegal cartel and, thus, should alert public officials and suggests simple methods for detecting suspicious behaviour of participants in tender procedures. The discussion focuses on identifying dubious bids and bidding patterns, suspicious pricing and market sharing practices. Finally, in section 6, the Guide concludes by providing some simple practical tips for public officials to maximize competition and reduce the likelihood of cartel formation in public procurement tenders.


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