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When can Lotteries improve Public Procurement Processes?


  • Antonio Estache
  • Renaud Foucart
  • Tomas Serebrisky


We study the feasibility, challenges, and potential benefits of adding a lottery component to standard negotiated and rule-based procurement procedures. For negotiated procedures, we introduce a “discrete lottery” in which local bureaucrats negotiate with a small number of selected bidders and a lottery decides who is awarded the contract. We show that the discrete lottery performs better than a standard negotiated procedure when the pool of firms to choose from is large and corruption is high. For rule-based auction procedures, we introduce a “third-price lottery” in which the two highest bidders are selected with equal probability and the project is contracted at a price corresponding to the third highest bid. We show that the third-price lottery reduces the risks from limited liability and renegotiation. It performs better than a standard second-price or ascending auction when the suppliers’ pool size, the risk of cost overrun, delays and non-delivery of the project are high. The choice between a second-price auction, a third price lottery and a lottery amongst all bidders also depends on the weight placed on producer surplus, including for instance the desire to increase the participation of local SMEs in public sector services markets.

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  • Antonio Estache & Renaud Foucart & Tomas Serebrisky, 2022. "When can Lotteries improve Public Procurement Processes?," Working Papers ECARES 2022-22, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:eca:wpaper:2013/345092

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    More about this item


    rules; discretion; procurement; lotteries; corruption; auctions;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • 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

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