Greek public procurement problems and corruption Eurotopics

There have been a lot said about public procurements regarding the existing problems and the risk of corruption.

Especially in Greece during these 8 years of recession, when someone talks about corruption, public procurements are the main and many times the only overanalyzed topic.

It is true that despite all the reforms that the public procurements system has faced, the corruption in this sector remains at a very high level. At the same time is even harder for a public procurement to be awarded to a bidder due to the complexity of the Greek procurement legal system. This situation is pretty similar to the death spiral, causing a huge problem in the state function. An additional problem is that the last public procurement law 4412/2016, with effect from August 2016, is nearly a Google translated version of the EU Directives 2014/24 and 2014/25 which is far from digesting them to the existing relative legal system. The aforementioned issue produces numerous problems and questions to the departments of the public sector that manage the public procurements as well as to the companies as potential bidders.

There are a lot to be done in order to improve and enhance the transparency of the public procurement process as well its effectiveness. In the coming paragraphs, some proposals aimed at addressing the above problems are being developed.

Regarding the issue of corruption in public sector and especially in the sector of public procurements it needs to be splitted into: a) Corruption of political persons, b) Corruption of public servants. Such a split is needed because corrupted political persons affect in a different manner the procedures in their favor compared with the public servants and they are under a more complicated legal status than the second ones.

A way that could effectively reduce the corruption of political persons in the sector of public procurements is the reduction of their influence upon the competent divisions. This can take place if the parliament or any other body that is not influenced only by the government, set specific public servants to every competent division of each public body as the Heads of them with full responsibility.

A great reason of the corruption of public servants is their permanence in the competent divisions managing public procurements. The more they stay in these divisions of each public body the more the risks of corruption uprise. Leaving these departments after specific years of working there could be a potential solution but it would result in an exit of knowledge and experience that are essential in this sector. A very good way to overcome the issue of permanence and therefore corruption is a rotation. The rotation wouldn’t be of public servants, it would be of the public procurements. Until now every public body has at least one division that manages the public procurements concerning the public body’s needs. If every three years, the needs of each public body would be managed by the competent authority of another public body, then the cons of the permanence would be eliminated. The gap of the specific knowledge that could possibly be required for some public procurements (e.g. specific public constructions etc) could be confronted through the provision of a wide range of consulting services to the whole public sector. The cost of the consulting services for the state would be much lower than the cost of corruption that tries to cut.

Common technical specifications for the whole public sector, regarding needs such as office equipment, electronic equipment etc should be set as soon as possible. The Greek word chaos can describe properly the current situation regarding public procurements in every public body for such equipment. Such an initiative could drop the costs of relevant public procurements at least by 40%. 

Economy and politically wise, there are numerous and low-cost possible solutions for a much better and more effective public sector which are going to cause a tremendous drop of its costs and corruption. It is up to us as a society and the way we choose our government if we really want it happened.