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The political and economic significance of government procurement is plain. Government contracts are of considerable value and importance, often accounting for 10 to 20 per cent of GDP in any given state. Government spending is often high-profile and has the capacity to shape the future lives of local residents.
Even as the economic climate improves, it is perhaps no surprise that, with austerity the watchword throughout the developed economies, governments seek to demonstrate more effective, better-value purchasing; nor that many suppliers view government contracts as a much-needed revenue stream offering relative certainty that they will be paid.
The biggest single development internationally in the period since the second edition is undoubtedly the adoption of new EU directives and progress towards the required national implementation, Member State by Member State.
The New Directives cover, respectively, mainstream public sector and utilities procurement (replacing the 2004 directives) and concessions, an area previously only partly covered by the EU regime. At the time of writing, only the United Kingdom has implemented the mainstream directive, with the deadline for transposition being 18 April 2016.
Some national authors have reported significant increases in challenges to contract award decisions, and this is certainly the experience in the United Kingdom. While it is clear that there are considerable variations between jurisdictions in the willingness or ability of suppliers to challenge, it seems to us that the increased risk of challenge can help hold awarding authorities to account and is likely to encourage greater compliance with national procurement rules.
It may be that, in jurisdictions where bringing procurement challenges is either difficult or expensive, further measures are needed to amplify this effect.