An Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Directives 2014/23, 2014/24 and 2014/25 on Indicators of Transparency and Corruption
Ever since the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957, the European Union has aimed to increase transparency and decrease corruption in procurement by several directives and policies. In this study, we will assess whether the Directives 2014/23, 2014/24 and 2014/25 have led to more transparency and less corruption in public procurement. We measure transparency through the presence of key information fields in tender notices, while corruption is measured through the risk indicator of single bidding. We first regress eight indicators of transparency on single bidding in eight different binary logistic models. Here we find that a ratio indicator of transparency, in which the share of key missing information fields on the tender notice level is calculated, shows the highest effect on single bidding. Using this ratio transparency indicator, we observe no clear increase in transparency after the transposition of the directives. Likewise, our models do not provide support for a decrease in single bidding after the transposition of the directives. We find that the leeway the generic nature of the 2014 Directives provides may decrease the level of previously well-established procurement laws and norms in specific countries. We recommend increasing the monitoring and enforcement power of the Union to ensure proper compliance. We also propose to implement a Unionwide tender data repository and platform to foster research and open competition in tenders.
This chapter argues that the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2004 and its subsequent ratification by more than 180 parties indicates universal agreement on the norms of quality of government, putting an end to moral relativist arguments. While UNCAC does not define corruption, it defines good governance and sets ethical universalism as its key benchmark. The chapter then follows the intellectual history of this concept and its remarkable success, with the norm of equal, fair, and nondiscriminatory treatment of every citizen present in every current constitutional contract. Ratification does not necessarily mean implementation when corruption is concerned, and the chapter surveys limitations to the practice of ethical universalism in governance and existing approaches to narrow the gap between norm and practice.
In 1999, Evans and Rauch showed a strong association between government effectiveness (quality of government)—particularly the presence of a Weberian-like bureaucracy, selected and promoted on merit alone and largely autonomous from private interests—and economic growth. In 1997 and the aftermath of the Washington Consensus controversial reforms the World Bank promoted this finding in its influential World Development Report 1997 as part of its broader paradigm on “institutional quality.” Twenty years of investment in state capacity followed, by means of foreign assistance supporting the quality of public administration as a prerequisite to development. However, most reviews found the results well under expectations. This is hardly surprising, seeing that Max Weber, credited as the first promoter of the importance of bureaucracy as both the end result and the tool of government rationalization in modern times, never took for granted the autonomy of the state apparatus from private interest. He clearly stated that the power using the apparatus is the one steering the bureaucracy itself. In fact, a review of empirical evidence shows that the quality of public administration is endogenous to the quality of government more broadly and therefore can hardly be a solution in problematic contexts. The autonomy of the state from private interest is one of the most difficult objectives to accomplish in the evolution of a state, and few states have managed in contemporary times to match the achievements of Denmark or Switzerland in the 19th century. Two countries, Estonia and Georgia, are exceptional in this regard, but their success argues for the primacy of politics rather than of administration.
Corruption and development are two mutually related concepts equally shifting in meaning across time. The predominant 21st-century view of government that regards corruption as inacceptable has its theoretical roots in ancient Western thought, as well as Eastern thought. This condemning view of corruption coexisted at all times with a more morally indifferent or neutral approach that found its expression most notably in development scholars of the 1960s and 1970s who viewed corruption as an enabler of development rather than an obstacle. Research on the nexus between corruption and development has identified mechanisms that enable corruption and offered theories of change, which have informed practical development policies. Interventions adopting a principal agent approach fit better the advanced economies, where corruption is an exception, rather than the emerging economies, where the opposite of corruption, the norm of ethical universalism, has yet to be built. In such contexts corruption is better approached from a collective action perspective. Reviewing cross-national data for the period 1996–2017, it becomes apparent that the control of corruption stagnated in most countries and only a few exceptions exist. For a lasting improvement of the control of corruption, societies need to reduce the resources for corruption while simultaneously increasing constraints. The evolution of a governance regime requires a multiple stakeholder endeavor reaching beyond the sphere of government involving the press, business, and a strong and activist civil society.
Over the past three decades, the study of corruption across several disciplines has greatly increased. Despite the progress on knowledge, anti-corruption scholars and practitioners deplore the lack of progress in the fight against corruption as measured by rankings such as the Corruption Perception Index (CPI). Mungiu-Pippidi (2015), for example, identifies a maximum of ten countries that have managed to reduce corruption significantly in the past 20 years. This leads to the question on whether there is a gap between corruption theory and practice, and if so, what can explain it? This chapter reviews the relevant literature to argue that what looks like a possible disconnect between theory and practice is the product of lack of conceptual clarity and insufficient cross-pollination between different strands of academic literature. It considers two of the main streams of literature, that in favor of less government intervention with anti-corruption policies based on incentive manipulation rather than repression and that in favor of government intervention and legal deterrence. It thus attempts to bring some clarity to the debate around the effectiveness of market and legal solutions for anti-corruption by combining the latest findings and lessons learned from the anti-corruption literature with the main theories of change originated from the economic literature. In addition to the theoretical discussion, I run a few tests of the theories I discuss to substantiate my argument.
After a comprehensive test of today’s anticorruption toolkit, it seems that the few tools that do work are effective only in contexts where domestic agency exists. Therefore, the time has come to draft a comprehensive road map to inform evidence-based anticorruption efforts. This essay recommends that international donors join domestic civil societies in pursuing a common long-term strategy and action plan to build national public integrity and ethical universalism. In other words, this essay proposes that coordination among donors should be added as a specific precondition for improving governance in the WHO’s Millennium Development Goals. This essay offers a basic tool for diagnosing the rule governing allocation of public resources in a given country, recommends some fact-based change indicators to follow, and outlines a plan to identify the human agency with a vested interest in changing the status quo. In the end, the essay argues that anticorruption interventions must be designed to empower such agency on the basis of a joint strategy to reduce opportunities for and increase constraints on corruption, and recommends that experts exclude entirely the tools that do not work in a given national context.