Procurement officials should be watching for signs of bid rigging and collusion, according to a report from the Housing and Urban Development Department inspector general.
The report on anticompetitive bidding is part of the HUD Officer of Inspector General Fraud Bulletin series, which provides guidance on how to spot and deter bad actors seeking to abuse the uncertain circumstances of the pandemic. Though the report does not indicate whether anticompetitive bidding schemes have taken place during the pandemic, it encourages procurement officers to keep their eyes open.
“In a disaster environment, such as the one created by the COVID-19 pandemic, competitive pricing can be impacted by the lack of competition, the scarcity of products, the urgent need to acquire products and services quickly, and the lack of substitute product availability,” the report reads. “Although this does not mean that anticompetitive fraud schemes have occurred, the fluid environment increases the risk that they will.”
Collusion prevents the market from allowing the product with the best quality at the best price from rising to the fore during the bidding process, according to the report. Anticompetitive schemes include practices like submitting “token bids” to make it look as though the winning company beat out the competition, when really it was chosen by colluding parties behind the scenes. Other schemes involve agreements to abstain from bidding or withdraw from the bidding process in order to ensure one company wins.
Keep reading this article at: https://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2020/07/hud-ig-warns-agencies-watch-out-bidding-fraud/167263/