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Tracking cost savings from competitive tendering in the short and long run


  • Luis Angeles
  • Robin G. Milne‌


A major initiative of the Thatcher and Major Conservative administrations was that public sector ancillary and professional services provided by incumbent direct service organisations [DSOs] be put out to tender. Analyses of this initiative, in the UK and elsewhere, found costs were often reduced in the short run. However, few if any studies went beyond the first round of tendering. We analyze data collected over successive rounds of tendering for cleaning and catering services of Scottish hospitals in order to assess the long term consequences of this initiative. The experience of the two services was very different. Cost savings for cleaning services tended to increase with each additional round of tendering and became increasingly stable. In accordance with previous results in the literature, DSOs produced smaller cost reductions than private contractors: probably an inevitable consequence of the tendering process at the time. Cost savings from DSOs tended to disappear during the first round of tendering, but they appear to have been more permanent in successive rounds. Cost savings for catering, on the other hand, tended to be much smaller, and these were not sustained

Suggested Citation

  • Luis Angeles & Robin G. Milne‌, 2015. "Tracking cost savings from competitive tendering in the short and long run," Working Papers 2015_11, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
  • Handle: RePEc:gla:glaewp:2015_11

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. AndréS GóMez-Lobo & Stefan Szymanski, 2001. "A Law of Large Numbers: Bidding and Compulsory Competitive Tendering for Refuse Collection Contracts," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 18(1), pages 105-113, February.
    2. Stefan Szymanski, 1993. "Cheap rubbish? Competitive tendering and contracting out in refuse collection, 1981-88," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 14(3), pages 109-130, August.
    3. Robin Milne & Robin Wright, 1999. "Competitive tendering in the Scottish National Health Service Was it compulsory, and did it make a difference?(*)," Working Papers 1999_11, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
    4. Robin G. Milne & Robert E. Wright, 2004. "Competition and Costs: Evidence from Competitive Tendering in the Scottish National Health Service," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 51(1), pages 1-23, February.
    5. Simon Domberger & Stephen Rimmer, 1994. "Competitive Tendering and Contracting in the Public Sector: A Survey," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(3), pages 439-453.
    6. McAfee, R Preston & McMillan, John, 1987. "Auctions and Bidding," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 699-738, June.
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    More about this item


    Competitive Tendering; Scottish Hospitals; Cleaning services; Catering services.;

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • H57 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Procurement

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