Bid rigging, also known as collusive tender, is agreements between bidders to eliminate competition in the procurement process, thereby raising prices and lowering quality. It is a major risk to the integrity and effectiveness of public procurement, and deprives the public sector of genuine opportunities to achieve value for money. Procurement units and their officials are therefore encouraged to learn and execute preventive measures to combat bid rigging.
Raising awareness of bid rigging risks has proven to be an important step to prevent the anti-competitive conduct, in ensuring value for money in public procurement, in line with Brunei Darussalam’s national agenda to promote efficient use of public resources and prudent spending. This was highlighted by the Competition Commission Brunei Darussalam (CCBD) during a dialogue session with the Audit Department, Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) that took place at Dewan Serbaguna, Bangunan Bahirah last week.
During the opening, the Executive Secretariat of the CCBD applauded the proactive move made by the Audit Department in requesting for the dialogue session to learn about the Competition Order, specifically, focusing on bid rigging prohibition.
More than 40 officials from the Audit Department were in attendance, led by the Auditor General, Yang Mulia Awang Haji Yusop bin Haji Mahmud. Representing the CCBD were Yang Berhormat Nik Hafimi binti Abdul Haadii, Chairperson of the CCBD, Commissioner Yang Mulia Pengiran Hajah Zety Sufina binti Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Sani, 2 Permanent Secretary (Industry) at the Ministry of Finance and Economy, and Commissioner Yang Mulia Dayang Hajah Nor Hashimah binti Haji Mohd Taib, Deputy Permanent Secretary (Security, Enforcement and Law) at PMO.
The dialogue session discussed the key prohibitions of the Order, including prohibition on Anti-Competitive Agreements, which is already enforced since January 1, 2020; and shared recommendations consolidated from regional case studies; good practices from experienced competition authorities and; specific steps to render public procurement processes competitive in minimising risks of collusive tendering.
The Executive Secretariat of CCBD shared at great length on the different forms of bid rigging and the tools to detect and prevent bid rigging in public procurement. The session outlined some of the key measures to mitigate the risk of collusion, including, possessing market knowledge on a specific market; encouraging more bidders to participate in a tender; defining tender requirements clearly; and reducing communication amongst bidders. It is also important to include clauses stating bid rigging is an offence under the Competition Order in the tender document.
It was emphasised that procurement officials play a crucial role in bid rigging detection and should be vigilant on the warning signs of bid rigging, and to build a database to keep detailed records of bid documents. Any suspicious bidding patterns are to be reported to the CCBD, with substantial evidence, to enable investigation.
The session ended with an active dialogue deliberating on topics on the roles of the CCBD, application of the law, tender practices, as well as potential collaboration between the Audit Department and the CCBD in promoting competition in public procurement procedures and reducing the risks of bid rigging to ensure an efficient use of public resources.
The Executive Secretariat of CCBD can be reached through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 2233344 extension 230, 341 or 343 for general inquiries and request for briefings on the Competition Order.