Public Affairs Ireland | Training and Development | Conferences

Ahead of PAI’s Annual Public Procurement Conference 2022, Speaker and Competition and Consumer Protection Commission Member, Úna Butler gives some background reading to her presentation “Combatting bid-rigging in public procurement”:

Competition and public procurement fit hand in glove.  Both look for innovative solutions and value for money that lead to better services and opportunities for both consumers and businesses. However, the structured nature of public procurement can make it a fertile breeding ground for anti-competitive practices such as bid-rigging.

So, what is bid-rigging? Bid-rigging is when suppliers come together and agree on an approach to manipulate the outcome of a procurement process. It is really important for public and civil servants to be aware of their responsibility to identify tendering anomalies and bring them to the attention of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).

Bid-rigging can add up to 20-30% to the cost of procurement. This is particularly harmful when budgets are tight. It may mean that tenderers don’t propose their best people, provide you with the best service or put effort into coming up with innovative solutions.

The CCPC is an independent statutory body with a dual mandate to enforce competition and consumer protection law in Ireland. The CCPC’s mission is to use its statutory powers, knowledge and skills to promote competition and enhance consumer welfare. The CCPC uses its statutory powers to promote compliance with competition and consumer protection law, taking enforcement action where appropriate.

Procurement executives are uniquely positioned to spot the warning signs of bid-rigging. At this year’s PAI public procurement conference, I will be sharing information about how to spot those signs and what you can do if you have any suspicions. You will hear about bid-rigging cases we have investigated and taken to court, the penalties involved for breaches, and developments that are happening in this space.

The CCPC has an excellent guide on detecting and preventing bid-rigging, including tips on what to look out for and advice on making your procurement process as robust as possible. Staff in the Cartels Division of the CCPC are also available to meet with procurement teams to provide training. This training can be delivered remotely, and is ideal for a lunch and learn session with staff working from home.

For procurement trainers, the CCPC guide to bid-rigging and educational video are go-to resources to include in any procurement training or resource pack. Participants on the PAI Certificate Programme in Public Procurement will already be familiar with the CCPC Cartel Division’s training session on bid-rigging and price fixing practices.

For more information or to request a training session email JosephWalser@ccpc.ie or call 01 470 3678/087 183 0501.

Úna Butler is a Member of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC). She was appointed as a Member in January 2022. Prior to this, she was Director of Legal Services & General Counsel at the CCPC. Úna previously worked as a legal advisor in ComReg and as a lawyer in private practice in Dublin, specialising in EU, competition and regulatory law. She was called to the Bar in 2003 with a Barrister-at-Law degree from the Honorable Society of King’s Inns. In 2019, Úna was included in a list of “40 in their 40s” Notable Women Competition Professionals in Europe, the Americas and Africa by W@, a global platform for women professionals.