The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is the statutory body responsible for enforcing and promoting compliance with competition, consumer protection and product safety laws. The CCPC also has important and expanding roles in relation to digital markets and data.
Our aim is to make markets work better for consumers. Consumers benefit from competitive markets as firms are incentivised to produce better products and services at lower prices.
Artificially high business prices, created by anti-competitive conduct, may also make Ireland less attractive for foreign investment and as a small open economy, Ireland is dependent on foreign investment as a major source of employment and a driver of economic growth.
Bid-rigging is a serious form of anti-competitive behaviour. It happens when a number of suppliers come together and agree not to bid against one-another for a tender or contract. In these cases, the winning tender price may be higher than the price that would be reached through competitive tendering. An open competition means that firms reveal the lowest price at which they are willing to do the job. Bid-rigging also reduces the range of goods and services that consumers can choose from.
It is important that the full benefits of the competitive process are realised to ensure value for money and the highest quality of public services. Bid-rigging can add up to 20-30% to the cost of procurement – particularly harmful when budgets are tight.
Procurers influence the nature of competition in the market for their project, be it national, regional, or local, by the actions they take. In executing their function, procurers should remain vigilant and for example learn from procurement data gathered, identify patterns that might indicate anti-competitive behaviour and red flag potential bid-rigging. The public sector, as the largest purchaser, is in a unique position, due to our frequent interaction with tenderers, to spot warning signs.
The CCPC can help procurers detect bid-rigging by offering help to identify warning signs, offering training for procurement officials, and investigating reported suspicions submitted to us.
Also, with the recent commencement of the Competition (Amendment) Act 2022, the CCPC now has the power to issue fines for breaches of Irish and EU competition law. The substantial financial penalties that are now available to the CCPC will be an essential deterrent when tackling white-collar crime, including cartels. We have also introduced a leniency programme, which international evidence shows is an effective way of gathering evidence of collusion.
Looking forward, the CCPC is also planning to introduce a screening system to detect bid-rigging in public procurement.
For more information on bid-rigging, please visit the CCPC website