Author(s): Audinga Baltrunaite, Cristina Giorgiantonio, Sauro Mocetti and Tommaso Orlando.
Keywords: discretion,supplier selection,public procurement,transparency,corruption.
Public procurement outcomes depend on the ability of the procuring agency to select well-performing suppliers. Should public administrations be granted more or less discretion in their decision making? Using Italian data on municipal public works tendered in the period 2009-2013, we study how a reform extending the scope of bureaucrat discretion affects supplier selection. We find that the share of contracts awarded to politically connected firms increases while the (ex-ante) labor productivity of the winning firm decreases, thus suggesting a potential misallocation of the public funds. These effects are concentrated among lower quality procuring agencies.