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The first edition of The Government Procurement Review brings together contributions from eminent procurement lawyers across five continents and provides real insight to the key issues in government procurement across the different jurisdictions.
The importance of government contracts for the economy cannot be overstated. Indeed, these contracts often account for 10 to 20 per cent of GDP in any given state. While Keynesian economic theory suggests that increased government spending will support growth in times of recession, in practice the ongoing downturn has often been accompanied instead by austerity and government cuts have been the byword.
Noticeable common threads that run through the different national legal systems are worthy of note. The systems of most, if not all, jurisdictions now embrace the key principles of transparency, value for money and objectivity. These principles go hand in hand with the continuing drive against corruption and bribery. These threads are now embedded in the UNCITRAL Model Law on Public Procurement, updated in 2011, and the guidance contained in the 2012 Guide to Enactment, together with the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement (‘GPA’) and the EU directives.
At the same time, there are some significant divergences in national approaches. Perhaps most notably, some national laws seek to treat all contractors equally without distinction as to the origin of the supplier, or at least give equal access to suppliers from states that are parties to a multilateral agreement – as is the case for all GPA members. Other legal systems overtly favour national sourcing, for example by explicitly reserving certain contracts for national suppliers.
Overall, we continue to see procurement law evolving internationally. The UNCITRAL Model Law on Public Procurement was last updated as recently as 2011 and the GPA text was revised in 2012. And there is a major reform package going through the EU institutions at present, which could be on the EU statute books late in 2013 or, perhaps more realistically, in 2014. Among the many EU reforms is expected to be the regulation of service concession contracts, which have hitherto only been lightly touched upon by the EU rules but are of considerable economic importance in some Member States. Meanwhile, UNCITRAL is exploring possible future work in the area of public-private partnerships.