Literature Review on Public Procurement: Theories, evidence and implications for regional Australia: Prepared background analysis for the Regional Australia Institute

Pascal Tremblay, Alicia Boyle

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

Abstract

Public procurement accounts for a significant amount of economic activity, which is why it has become important as a public policy domain for governments (at all scales) pursuing economic development goals, and increasingly as a means to address other types of social objectives. As a field of study, it spans across many disciplines, and remains to this day poorly integrated and rarely analysed or reviewed as a whole. For these reasons, it suffers from the absence of a universal conceptual framework, is short on standard or accepted practices, and is particularly deficient for its exceedingly limited use of credible evaluations producing reliable empirical evidence.

Despite all this, many governments seem to be increasingly calling on public procurement as a mechanism to tackle an increasingly wide range of social objectives (such as Indigenous economic participation for instance) hoping that entrusting some of those to private businesses will overcome the social challenges that conventional and dedicated policy instruments had proven powerless to solve. This survey shows that there are real dangers that relying on public procurement could be to the least ineffective or even prove significantly harmful if procurement processes become ‘captured’ by a variety of private interests and result in undermining governments’ accountability. Small regions lacking critical administrative and legal capabilities appear particularly exposed to such forms of abuse, especially if too many decisions regarding important social choices bypass conventional checks and balances, and inhibit public scrutiny.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherNorthern Institute
Commissioning bodyRegional Australia Institute
Number of pages186
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2018

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