Odd-Helge Fjeldstad

Senior Researcher, Coordinator: Tax and Public Finance

National procurement systems handle a substantial share of total government expenditures in most countries. If the public procurement systems in poorer countries were improved, there would be substantial positive effects on public services, private enterprise, economic growth, and the legitimacy and effectiveness of public authority.  These messages are now widely appreciated.  The task is to translate them into practical, effective and concrete policies. 

The main objectives of this project are (1) to provide an overview for practitioners of existing political economy tools that may guide procurement processes, and (2) to fill some of the gaps in the existing political economy tool box to establish a more specific focus on procurement.

The Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action are binding external actors to use country systems for procurement. The procurement systems in many poorer countries are often ineffective, non-transparent and riddled with corruption. The achievements of procurement reforms are mixed with few obvious success stories, reflecting the need for better understanding of the main constraints and how the challenges can be addressed. There is, however, increasing awareness among development practitioners that procurement and the political context are tightly connected.

Political economy analysis seeks to understand the interests and incentives of different groups in society, and how policy outcomes are produced as a result of these interests and incentives. It also addresses the impact of values and ideas, including political ideologies, on political decision making and public policy. Accordingly, political-economy analysis is relevant for the design and implementation of effective procurement reforms. At present, there are no guides available that link political-economy analysis and procurement. This project is a first step to establish such a guide.

The main questions that will be addressed are:

  • What are the main lessons of procurement and public administration reform efforts? 
  • How can reform in procurement be influenced by reform initiatives in other areas of the public sector?
  • What are the main tools for political-economy analysis? 
  • What are the main shortfalls in the existing PE-toolkits with respect to procurement?
  • How can available political-economy analysis tools be used specifically to make   procurement more effective?