Belgian Competition Authority issues a practical guide to fight bid rigging
03/02/2017

On 31 January 2017, the Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) issued a guide on bid rigging.

This guide is explicitly directed to tendering authorities and provides practical ‘tips and tricks’ on how they could detect, prevent and report bid-rigging practices. However, the guide also provides useful information to companies participating in public tenders as it gives many indications on how the BCA might assess and investigate potential bid-rigging practices in the future.

The guide first clarifies the concept of bid rigging and briefly explains the different ways in which participants in public tenders could distort competition by rigging their bids. According to the BCA, the most common types of bid rigging are agreements to submit symbolic offers (being too high or not in compliance with the procurement conditions), agreements to refrain from submitting an offer or even agreements to set up a rotation system for the allocation of public tenders.

The BCA subsequently lists various indications of bid-rigging behaviour which the public authorities should bear in mind when analysing the offers submitted in a tender procedure. This list should also help to detect strange patterns in the way and the frequency that certain companies participate in public tenders. According to the BCA, particular attention should be paid to the documents and prices that have been submitted and to the behaviour and declarations of companies participating in public tenders (e.g. the fact that various offers have the same lay-out or use the same phrases, the fact that there is a big price difference between the winning offer and the other offers or the fact that the selected bidder subcontracts an important part of the tender to other bidders). It is also interesting to underline that the BCA advises public authorities to save this sort of information so that it could, in the long run, reveal certain patterns.

Furthermore, the BCA provides guidance on how public authorities could prevent companies from rigging their bids. Apart from some general advice on how to prepare a competitive tender and how to avoid collusion, the BCA suggests that the authorities implement a complaint system for companies and an internal procedure to report indications of possible bid rigging to the BCA.

In the guide it is underlined that the fight against bid rigging is a priority for the BCA. The guide will probably be a useful and welcome tool for public authorities to assist the BCA in this fight.

The guide is available in Dutch and in French on the website of the BCA.


Authors:

Peter Teerlinck ([email protected])
Jeroen Dewispelaere ([email protected])
Joren Vuylsteke ([email protected])

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