A free hand or a free market? How competitive is public procurement in Europe? Part three of a three part series

December 17, 2020
Procurement

This article is the last of a three part series on competitive tendering in public procurement in Europe. We have already learned that European tendering is positive in some aspects (amount of time given to respond) and less positive in others (provision of information to bidders). In this article, we’ll be looking at the number of tenders that received single bids. A single bid tender suggests that only one supplier had the resources, capabilities and pricing to do the job. This supplier is typically the incumbent but could be any other supplier a buyer prefers. 

Single bid tenders is different to the other metrics. The other metrics pertain to the early stages of tender publishing. Therefore they serve more as red flags of potential uncompetitiveness. This metric however relates to tendering after submissions. Therefore this metric is outcome based and indicative of how healthy the overall processes and systems of tendering are in a country. 

In the same vein as earlier analyses, we extracted data from Tenders Electronic Daily or TED, one of the many data sources we use for tenders and contracts data. We looked at data over the past three financial years (FY), counted as between 1st April and 31st March.

Proportion of single bid tenders (3 FY average)

When tenders attract only a single bid, it suggests that the process is more favourable to a limited pool of suppliers. In many instances this is a natural process but on a larger scale, this can affect competitiveness within a market. We therefore looked at single bid tenders for countries on TED, starting with the best five:

The top performers

There are recurring names in this list. Ireland and Sweden featured in the top five in earlier analyses. Macedonia had a near 50% publishing rate of short description tender publishing. 3 out of 5 of this list are at 10% or nearly at 10% when it comes to single bid tenders which seems high. All are seeing upward trends in single bid tendering. 

Areas of concern

The bottom five’s picture is starker: all had significant rates of single bid tendering. At the minimum, 3 out of 10 tenders in these countries are single bid tenders. For three countries, the rate is four out of 10. Moreover, although Poland and Croatia improved, the rest saw increased rates. 

Of particular concern is the countries in the middle. The average single tender rate is 1 in 4, a trend that has been getting worse over the past 3 years. As we can infer from the first table, the majority of countries have over 10% single bid tenders. This suggests a lack of competitiveness in European tendering that warrants further investigation. The issue is better in some countries, such as Ireland, Norway, Sweden that repeatedly appear in the top five or top ten. But competitiveness in tendering can be improved.

You can find out more about our research at https://www.spendnetwork.com or look at our data at https://openopps.com.

January 20, 2021

Where Are All The SMEs?

While 2020 was an incredibly rocky road for many businesses globally, in public procurement it was SMEs in particular who lost out,...
January 14, 2021

Are UK, France and Germany Having a Competition Crisis in Procurement?

We recently completed a study of European government procurement changes in the three years up to and including 2020, to assess the...
January 13, 2021

How Long Does It Take A Department To Publish A Contract Notice?

Public sector organisations have, according to guidance, thirty days to publish details of their contracts online. So, thirty days after a contract...
January 12, 2021

Controversial Food Box Contractors Face Scrutiny

There is increased scrutiny for the suppliers of food boxes provided to the chronically ill and those asked to shelter through the...
January 7, 2021

£550 Million Missile Contract Signed.

Yesterday defence Defence Minister Jeremy Quin announced a £550 million contract was awarded for new surge-attack missile The contract award promises 'hundreds...
January 7, 2021

Time To Build More Open Products For Government

-Ian Makgill, Founder Spend Network Just before Christmas, DXC (formerly Hewlett Packard) was awarded a contract for £430,000 by the Business Services...
December 23, 2020

New Year, New Tool. Introducing Our New Classifier.

Our New Solution To Classification In 2020, we developed an advanced classifier. This tool adds multiple labels to procurement notices based on...
December 18, 2020

The buyers that spoiled Christmas 2020

Welcome to our annual run down of the buyers that are most likely to spread misery for suppliers at Christmas. Here are...
December 17, 2020

Why Blacklisting Is Harder Than You Think.

Sadly, we don't have to look far to find examples of suppliers being accused of illegality. The Grenfell enquiry heard evidence that...
December 17, 2020

Build Back Younger?

Joe Biden's exhortation to 'build back better', which has also been used by Boris Johnson, is broadly equivalent to the more arch...
December 17, 2020

UK Government Launches Plans To Transform Procurement.

The UK government yesterday launched a green paper, a series of proposed changes to procurement rules, purporting to put transparency and increased...
December 23, 2020

More Governments Improve Transparency.

It is always encouraging to see government procurement transparency improving around the world. Brazil and Cote d'Ivoire have both recently applied to...
December 14, 2020

Life in The Fast Lane

The NAO has just published a report criticising the Government for using a 'fast-lane', where suppliers that were known to MPs were...
December 14, 2020

Adding Value

We're analysts. We work with data, every day. We know what works and what doesn't work. We know about values that can't...
December 14, 2020

Visualise your data

Harness the power of procurement data to make informed decisions. Using our advanced analytics, we can create custom visualisations and dashboards for...

Newsletter

Compelling research, insights and data directly into your inbox.

Recent media stories

Welp Magazine
December 23, 2020
FT PPE Story
The Financial Times
December 9, 2020

Search