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Mind the gap: accountability and value for money in public private partnerships


  • Eoin REEVES


The increasing popularity of public private partnerships (PPP) raises important challenges in terms of protecting the public interest and maintaining accountability for the expenditure of public funds. This paper explores the principal mechanisms for addressing accountability concerns in the context of PPP. It focuses on the case of the Republic of Ireland. While recognising that a balance must be struck between protecting the public interest and creating conditions for competitive procurement it is argued that the balance is tipped in favour of the latter. The scope for improving accountability through parliamentary oversight is narrowed by the paucity of detailed analysis by the Comptroller and Auditor General and limits to the power of parliamentary committees to fully examine PPP. The paper also finds shortcomings in the conduct of value for money assessments. These problems undermine the objectivity of such assessments and reduce their worth as mechanisms for enhanced public accountability.

Suggested Citation

  • Eoin REEVES, 2010. "Mind the gap: accountability and value for money in public private partnerships," Departmental Working Papers 2010-34, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
  • Handle: RePEc:mil:wpdepa:2010-34

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael Klein & Jae So & Ben Shin, 1996. "Transaction Costs in Private Infrastructure Projects - Are They Too High?," World Bank Publications - Reports 11605, The World Bank Group.
    2. Blanc-Brude, Frederic & Goldsmith, Hugh & Valila, Timo, 2007. "Public-Private Partnerships In Europe: An Update," Economic and Financial Reports 2007/3, European Investment Bank, Economics Department.
    3. Flyvbjerg,Bent & Bruzelius,Nils & Rothengatter,Werner, 2003. "Megaprojects and Risk," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521009461.
    4. Rob Ball & Maryanne Heafey & Dave King, 2007. "The Private Finance Initiative in the UK," Public Management Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2), pages 289-310, June.
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    More about this item


    Procurement; Public Private Partnerships; Accountability; Project Evaluation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • H40 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - General
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate
    • H54 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Infrastructures
    • H57 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Procurement


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