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Can the Private Sector Ensure the Public Interest? Evidence from Federal Procurement

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Abstract

We empirically investigate the effect of oversight on contract outcomes in public procurement. In particular, we stress a distinction between public and private oversight: the former is a set of bureaucratic checks enacted by contracting offices, while the latter is carried out by private insurance companies whose money is at stake through so-called surety bonding. We analyze the universe of U.S. federal contracts in the period 2005-2015 and exploit an exogenous variation in the threshold for both sources of oversight, estimating their causal effects on costs and execution time. We find that: (i) public oversight negatively affects outcomes, in particular for less competent buyers; (ii) private oversight has a positive effect on outcomes by affecting both the ex-ante screening of bidders - altering the pool of winning firms - and the ex-post behavior of contractors.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:rtv:ceisrp:411
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    1. De Rassenfosse, Gaétan & Decarolis, Francesco & Giuffrida, Leonardo Maria & Iossa, Elisabetta & Mollisi, Vincenzo & Raiteri, Emilio & Spagnolo, Giancarlo, 2019. "Buyers' Role in Innovation Procurement," CEPR Discussion Papers 13777, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Decarolis, Francesco, 2018. "Procurement Centralization in the EU: the Case of Italy," CEPR Discussion Papers 12567, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. de Leverano, Adriano, 2019. "Collusion through market sharing agreements: Evidence from Quebec's road paving market," ZEW Discussion Papers 19-053, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    4. Jääskeläinen, Jan & Tukiainen, Janne, 2019. "Anatomy of public procurement," Working Papers 118, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    5. Francesco Decarolis & Leonardo M. Giuffrida & Elisabetta Iossa & Vincenzo Mollisi & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2018. "Bureaucratic Competence and Procurement Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 24201, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    oversight; procurement; screening; red tape; moral hazard.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • H57 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Procurement
    • L74 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Primary Products and Construction - - - Construction

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