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Competition under Incomplete Contracts and the Design of Procurement Policies

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  • Rodrigo Carril
  • Andres Gonzalez-Lira
  • Michael S. Walker

Abstract

We study the effects of intensifying competition for contracts in the context of U.S. Defense procurement. Conceptually, opening contracts up to bids by more participants leads to lower awarding prices, but may hinder buyers’ control over non-contractible characteristics of prospective contractors. Leveraging a regulation that mandates agencies to publicize certain contract opportunities, we document that expanding the set of bidders reduces award prices, but deteriorates post-award performance, resulting in more cost overruns and delays. To further study the scope of this tension, we develop and estimate a model in which the buyer endogenously chooses the intensity of competition, invited sellers decide on auction participation and bidding, and the winner executes the contract ex-post. Model estimates indicate substantial heterogeneity in ex-post performance across contractors, and show that simple adjustments to the current regulation that account for adverse selection could provide 2 percent of savings in procurement spending, or $104 million annually.

Suggested Citation

  • Rodrigo Carril & Andres Gonzalez-Lira & Michael S. Walker, 2022. "Competition under Incomplete Contracts and the Design of Procurement Policies," Working Papers 1327, Barcelona School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:1327
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    Cited by:

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    2. Yunjuan Liang & Xin Liang & Hua Wei, 2023. "Sustainable Quality-Incentive Contract Design of Public Technology Innovation Procurement under Asymmetry Information," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 15(11), pages 1-22, May.
    3. Cappelletti, Matilde & Giuffrida, Leonardo M., 2022. "Targeted bidders in government tenders," ZEW Discussion Papers 22-030, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    4. Rodrigo Carril, 2021. "Rules Versus Discretion in Public Procurement," Working Papers 1232, Barcelona School of Economics.
    5. Claudia Allende & Juan Pablo Atal & Rodrigo Carril & José Ignacio Cuesta & Andres Gonzalez-Lira, 2023. "Drivers of Public Procurement Prices: Evidence from Pharmaceutical Markets," Working Papers 1413, Barcelona School of Economics.
    6. Catherine Wolfram & Edward Miguel & Eric Hsu & Susanna B. Berkouwer, 2023. "Donor Contracting Conditions and Public Procurement: Causal Evidence from Kenyan Electrification," NBER Working Papers 30948, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Daniel Prudencio, 2023. "Productivity in Procurement Auctions of Pavement Contracts in Mexico," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 60(1), pages 63-85, August.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Procurement; competition; auctions; incomplete contracts;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • H57 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Procurement
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation

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