Corruption in the context of public procurement represents a problem at the European level, considerably influencing the permeability of the Romanian market by bidders from the European Union. Institutional corruption, auction fraud, bribery and conflicts of interest in public procurement suffocate competitive bidders and causes the loss of large sums of public funds. In this context, Freedom House Romania has implemented two projects that address, in an integrated manner, the need to combat fraud in public procurement.
A first such transnational project – Fighting Public Procurement Criminality. An Operational Approach – funded by the Prevention of and Fight against Crime fund (ISEC), took place between 2012 and 2015 and was implemented in partnership with public authorities and institutions, civil society organizations and international partners: Romanian Ministry of Justice (RO), National Anticorruption Directorate (RO), National Institute of Magistracy (RO), Superior Council of Magistracy (RO), Fraud Investigation Directorate, General Inspectorate of the Romanian Police (RO), National Association of Procurement Specialists (RO), Expert Forum Association (RO), EurActiv (RO), Magistrats Européens pour la Démocratie et les Libertés (BE), Konrad Adenauer Foundation (DE), National Integrity Agency (RO), National Authority for Regulation and Monitoring of Public Procurement (RO), National Council for the Settlement of Appeals (RO), Euractiv.com PLC (UK), Criminal Affairs and Pardons Directorate, Ministry of Justice (FR).
Within this project, Freedom House implemented two conferences and a series of 14 training seminars for 138 judges of Commercial and Criminal Law, 58 prosecutors, 153 judicial police officers, 41 experts, magistrates and operative officers. These included both theoretical modules and practical exercises with an emphasis on inter-institutional collaboration. In addition, an operational guide for magistrates and police officers has been developed and can be accessed below.
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Between 2014 and 2016, Freedom House Romania initiated a second project – Law, Economy, Competition and Administration – focused on developing a multidisciplinary approach in combating public procurement fraud. The program was funded by the European Commission and was implemented together with the National Agency of Civil Servants, the National Association of Procurement Specialists, the Center for the Study of Democracy and Expert Forum.
As a result of this project, we have improved the expertise of operational agents and civil servants in Romania and Bulgaria in terms of economic, legal, administrative and competition factors that allow corruption in public procurement procedures. We also identified specific institutional vulnerabilities related to legal loopholes, economic bottlenecks and bureaucratic deficiencies which allowed the development of corruption patterns.
During the implementation of the project we initiated 13 events, as follows: a conference, three workshops, a debate and seven seminars, targeting two main categories of participants, both Romanian and Bulgarian – magistrates and civil servants. In addition to the events, Freedom House Romania developed a training curriculum containing identified vulnerabilities and EU best practices in the field and an operational guide, which were disseminated among EU law enforcement authorities, civil servants and other relevant stakeholders.