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.
Publication Theme: Government Effectiveness
Report on Turkey on institutions in public procurement for the infrastructure sector
The report employs national data to analyse recent developments in the construction sector. However, the contract-level procurement data have not been compiled as requests for the data were unanswered by the Turkish Public Procurement Agency. Therefore, aggregate data on public procurement have been used to trace developments in law and implementation. The post-2002 incumbent AKP government has to a large extent considered construction investments as an engine of economic growth which resulted in a substantial expansion of this sector. The Turkish Public Procurement Law (PPL) came into force in 2003 to bring Turkey into compliance with EU procurement standards. Although certain improvements have been achieved, frequently introduced exemptions distorted the rules and procedures for transparency, competition and non-discrimination. A considerable number of amendments have aimed at removing major public contracts from the scope of PPL. Recently, Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) have been used principally to build up large-scale infrastructure projects. Due to the large capital requirements and the fact that the legal structure of PPPs is largely incompatible with the PPL and the EU regulations, only a smaller group of companies which have allegedly close connections with top level politicians win PPP projects worth billions of Euros. Thus, under the current framework, PPPs in the Turkish construction sector are significantly prone to corruption risks.
Report on Romania on institutions in public procurement for the infrastructure sector
Improving infrastructure in Romania has been a significant project in the past 25 years. Unfortunately, although large amounts of public funds were spent in the construction sector from 2007 to 2013 (an average of 6.6% of GDP), the physical results in terms of project quality and completion do not match this investment. One of the explanations for this is that public contracts were awarded to companies based on corrupted practices or political connections, the focus being on redistributing public money and not achieving high quality construction works.The present research points to the fact that statistical data analysis can be used in detecting corruption. The practice of single bidding and the tendency to establish political connections exist in the entire public procurement market. Nonetheless, non-EU funded contracts present a higher corruption risk. Only 1 out of 7 contracts receiving European funding were awarded to a single bidder, as opposed to 1 out of 4 contracts financed by the state budget. Still, 1 out of every 3 contracts won by a politically connected firm involved European funding. Data analysis also concluded that the number of contracts awarded per company can be explained by single bidding and the existence of a political connection in 44% of the cases. The agency-capture analysis revealed that favouritism in public procurement occurs especially at the local level and in state-owned companies. Most of the companies that “captured” contracting authorities are politically connected firms.At the same time, the case studies give an account of how firms’ owners go to great lengths to consolidate a network of relationships with high ranking officials so as to keep their doors open and contact political elites, but also various state institutions whose activity can favour or disrupt their companies’ economic well-being.
Report on Hungary on institutions in public procurement for the infrastructure sector
This report aims to document and to investigate the extent and the determinants of government favouritism in EU funded infrastructure development. It uses a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods. While predominantly relying on the analysis of contract-level quantitative data on Hungarian public procurement, it also provides a discussion of the institutional framework and particular cases based on document analysis and interviews.It finds that public procurement of infrastructure from national or EU Funds is a hotspot for corruption in Hungary just like in the other countries investigated by ANTICORRP Work Package 8. However, corruption is not pervasive everywhere and even high-level political influence has it limits. While the economic environment has varied greatly, public procurement spending on infrastructure followed a political logic with elections, EU funding cycles, and political power games playing a crucial role. It has proven to be one key public resource up for grabs for corrupt elites. Controls of corruption in public procurement in general are weak: not only is effective transparency very limited and declining rapidly since 2010, but also institutional remedies are likely to be controlled by the current governing party.As a result of extensive public resources available, weak controls, and a complex regulatory environment facilitating close cooperation between bidders and public bodies, corruption is widespread in infrastructure provision. Political connections, far from having a uniform impact, are effective in facilitating rent extraction only when organisational integrity is weak and both the bidders and contracting entities are politically controlled. In micro-cosmoses of high integrity, political connections are ineffective at best, but may even handicap companies.
Report on Germany on institutions in public procurement for the infrastructure sector
Germany has the highest public procurement expenditure in the EU, with an average of 370 billion euros a year between 2009 and 2013. The main objective of this report is to shed some light on the inner workings of the German public procurement system by providing a general overview of its historical development, the current trends in procurement spending and assessing potential risks for corruption. Given that Germany has two parallel procurement systems active at the time, one for contracts above the EU thresholds and one for the contracts underneath these limits, each one of them is evaluated separately. The lack of high quality tender-level data for the case of Germany made it impossible to base the risk assessment on objective indicators. Therefore, this report relies on different sources of data to determine the size of the procurement spending in the country, the manner in which it is allocated and the potential risks of corruption. The study concludes that the public procurement system in Germany – especially the one in place for contracts underneath EU thresholds – is vulnerable to corruption given its complex legislation that damages nation-wide competition, the lack of transparency in the awarding process, a clear or unified national legislation and the low utilization of e-procurement platforms.
Report on Croatia on institutions in public procurement for the infrastructure sector
This report seeks to assess the extent of favouritism – i.e., preferential treatment for some bidders over others – in the allocation of public procurement contracts in the construction sector in Croatia. The methodology is based on identifying opportunities for favouritism and evaluating the effectiveness of constraints. The research finds that Croatia’s public procurement law sets a high standard and there are numerous transparency and control mechanisms in place. Nevertheless, the integrity of procurement is undermined because a large share of it is contracted by entities which are owned by government units and thus subject to political influence and constrained by a much weaker control framework. Data on the procurement of high-value construction works is analysed for indicators of favouritism in the process or outcomes. Whilst there is only limited use of restrictive procedures, competition for public contracts is surprisingly weak in a sector under considerable economic pressure. Moreover, around one-half of the total contract value is won by tenderers which are not private companies but rather entities that are partially or fully owned by the state. This raises further questions about the potential for political leaders to influence the process in order to achieve favouritism in the allocation of public contracts, to benefit themselves or third parties. Evidence from the verdict of a trial involving high-ranking politicians suggests further that such favouritism may be widespread.
Report on Bulgaria on institutions in public procurement for the infrastructure sector
The Bulgarian public procurement market constituted 9% of national GDP on average from 2009 – 2013, which is lower than the EU average. Public procurement has been particularly important for the construction sector in the country, with approximately a third of total sector turnover deriving from public procurement in 2013. Since the onset of the economic crisis in 2008 the survival of the construction sector in Bulgaria has essentially hinged on public procurement, coming mostly from EU funds. This concentration of market power in the hands of the public administration, coupled with a history of lack of effectiveness, integrity and control, and persistent structural governance deficiencies imply significant corruption risks. Although the legal framework has continuously improved, it is subject to too frequent changes to ensure proper implementation.The firm-level analysis of the public procurement contracts awarded to the top 40 construction companies included in the paper, confirms the trend of concentration of the construction sector. The data does not confidently detect a specific type of favouritism but corruption risks are detected in specific cases, especially involving large-scale construction projects in the infrastructure and energy sectors. Anecdotal evidence abounds that powerful private operators exert pressure on the public administration to channel public procurement to major companies, linked either legally and/or through circles of influence to them.
The Splintering of Postcommunist Europe
There are two radically different versions of the postcommunist narrative. One tells the triumphal tale of the only world region in which the reforms recommended by the “Washington consensus” worked. The other and more realistic account speaks of a historic window of opportunity that lasted for only a quarter-century, during which efforts by the West and patriotic elites of Central and Eastern Europe managed to drag the region into Europe proper, leaving Europe and Russia pitted against each other along the old “civilizational” border between them. This essay argues that while Institutional choices matter in the postcommunist world, geopolitical and civilizational boundaries still set the horizons of political possibility.
Domestic Implementation of Human Rights Judgments in Europe: Legal Infrastructure and Government Effectiveness Matter
Over the past couple of years, international law and international relations scholarship has shifted its focus from the question of whether human rights treaties bring any state-level improvements at all to investigations in the domestic context of the factors and dynamics influencing state compliance. In this direction, and focusing on the European Court of Human Rights, this study inquires into the factors that account for variable patterns of state compliance with its judgments. Why do national authorities in some states adopt a more prompt and responsive attitude in implementing these judgments, in contrast to other states that procrastinate or respond reluctantly? On the basis of a large-N study of the Strasbourg Court’s judgments and a comparison across nine states, this article argues that variation in state implementation performance is closely linked to the overall legal infrastructure capacity and government effectiveness of a state. When such capacity and effectiveness are high and diffused, the adverse judgments of the Strasbourg Court are unlikely to be obstructed or ignored, even when the government, political elites, or other actors are reluctant and not in favour of substantive remedies.
Financial Liberalization and Institutional Development
This study empirically analyzes the effects of de jure financial openness on institutional quality as captured by indicators on investment risk, corruption level, impartiality of judiciary system, and the effectiveness of bureaucracy. We show that a higher degree of financial openness improves institutional quality mainly by reducing investment risks. We also study the effect of a single liberalization reform. Again, we find evidence for the beneficial impact of financial liberalization with the exception of corruption. We additionally show that the benign consequences of financial opening for the institutional development are even larger if financial liberalization is supported by simultaneous political liberalization, while financial deregulation in former socialist countries tends to worsen institutional quality.