A session of the 10th East Asia Summit (EAS)

Procurement Transparency Suffers Under Covid-19

Government publishing of procurement notices has fallen significantly following the global spread of Covid-19. The total number of tender notices published globally has fallen by nearly 40%, with the numbers in Asia falling by 68%.

In many cases, the pandemic has forced buyers to focus on emergency procurements, particularly of personal protective equipment for medical staff. These contracts and many others have been let using emergency procedures that obviate the need for running a full tender process with competitive bids, instead allowing governments to simply award contracts directly. The sheer volume of new contracts that have to be agreed upon has occupied most commercial staff.

This has led to a shortage of the staff required to manage existing contracts, many of which have simply been rolled over rather than allowing them to lapse.

However, the fall in tenders seems too large to be explained solely by the need to extend existing contracts. In many cases countries are simply failing to publish many of the tenders, preferring direct awards or just not publishing the tenders as had been required previously.

As the demands on governments begin to ease, we expect the volumes of published tenders to rise again, but this may not be for many months yet.

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