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Procurement Centralization in the EU: the Case of Italy


  • Decarolis, Francesco


This paper analyzes the process of centralization of public procurement in Europe, with an emphasis on the Italian case. It illustrates the main normative and regulatory reforms that took place between 2000 and 2016 at both EU and Italian levels. It then empirically evaluates the potential distortions induced by the most recent wave of centralization reforms. Using procurement data on all Italian public contracts awarded between 2015 and 2017, it finds that administrations expecting to lose their ability to contract independently game the centralization requirements in three ways. In the short run, they anticipate their purchases to avoid delegating to a central body. In the longer run, they both manipulate contract values, breaking down purchases into smaller lots of amounts below the thresholds driving centralization requirements, and, when given the option, aggregate into the smallest types of centralized purchasing bodies. These three distortions partially offset the potential benefits of the centralization reforms.

Suggested Citation

  • Decarolis, Francesco, 2018. "Procurement Centralization in the EU: the Case of Italy," CEPR Discussion Papers 12567, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:12567

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jeffrey B. Liebman & Neale Mahoney, 2017. "Do Expiring Budgets Lead to Wasteful Year-End Spending? Evidence from Federal Procurement," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(11), pages 3510-3549, November.
    2. Oriana Bandiera & Andrea Prat & Tommaso Valletti, 2009. "Active and Passive Waste in Government Spending: Evidence from a Policy Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1278-1308, September.
    3. Ján Palguta & Filip Pertold, 2017. "Manipulation of Procurement Contracts: Evidence from the Introduction of Discretionary Thresholds," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 293-315, May.
    4. Leonardo M. Giuffrida & Gabriele Rovigatti, 2017. "Can the Private Sector Ensure the Public Interest? Evidence from Federal Procurement," CEIS Research Paper 411, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 20 Jul 2017.
    5. Gian Luigi Albano & Marco Sparro, 2010. "Flexible Strategies for Centralized Public Procurement," Review of Economics and Institutions, Università di Perugia, vol. 1(2).
    6. Coviello, Decio & Mariniello, Mario, 2014. "Publicity requirements in public procurement: Evidence from a regression discontinuity design," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 76-100.
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    More about this item


    Centralization; Procurement; Public Contracts;

    JEL classification:

    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • H57 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Procurement
    • K23 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Regulated Industries and Administrative Law
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • L74 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Primary Products and Construction - - - Construction

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