HSE University Anti-Corruption Portal
New paper: catalog of undue techniques in public procurement

Anti-Corruption Center experts prepared a detailed list of undue techniques used to organize corrupt interactions in public procurement.

The research was conducted in 2019-2021 as part of a larger project investigating corruption in public procurement in Russia.

The authors – Alexey Konov and Natalia Gorbacheva – had studied various resources, including reports, analytical materials, and other documents of the Russian Chamber of Accounts, the Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation, the Federal Antimonopoly Service, as well as case law on criminal and administrative liability for procurement offenses, and information on alleged violations from media, NGOs reports, etc.

As a result of the study, the researchers identified 100 undue techniques that, employed in various combinations, enable unscrupulous government customers to build corrupt schemes and extract illegal rents. For each undue technique, its name, a brief description, the primary purposes of its use, and, in most cases, examples of its use were prepared.

Such a catalog of undue techniques can be practical in several ways, e.g.:

  • it helps to develop tools for the proactive detection of corruption offenses in public procurement;
  • it allows for revealing weaknesses in government web portals for public procurement;
  • it provides the basis for reviewing the national prohibitions and sanctions system to ensure its applicability to real-world corrupt interactions.

In addition, by analyzing undue techniques, the authors drew some important, though preliminary, conclusions on the effectiveness of the Russian public procurement system, including the following:

  • the increasing complexity of the procurement regulation has not put barriers to applying simple and long-known undue techniques;
  • certain features of the current procurement legislation incline even good-faith customers to use undue techniques;
  • the control and oversight regime focused on occasional inspections and reviews of complaints has proved ineffective.

Although the catalog is based on Russian experience, it could also be valuable for other countries since corruption schemes in procurement are largely similar worldwide. While there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach, the detailed list of undue techniques can be easily adapted to meet national specifics.

Corruption in public procurement

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