Corruption Risks and State Capture in Bulgarian Public Procurement

Fazekas, M.; Poltoratskaia, V.; Tóth, B. (2023). Corruption Risks and State Capture in Bulgarian Public Procurement (English). Policy Research working paper; no. WPS 10444 Washington, D.C.: World Bank Group.

This paper sets out to measure and analyze corruption risks, patterns of favoritism, and state capture in public procurement in Bulgaria. It draws on two main types of data: large-scale administrative data on public procurement and the list of politically exposed persons. The analysis rests on calculating individual corruption risk indicators (or red flags), such as single bidding in competitive markets, and creating a composite Corruption Risk Index based on these indicators. It maps the distribution of these red flags over time, across different regions and markets.

The analysis finds that Bulgaria shows high corruption risk among other examined countries in the European Union, with weak institutions contributing to slow gross domestic product per capita convergence to Western European countries. The results point out that corruption risks have deteriorated over time. Combining suppliers’ political connections information with public procurement corruption risk data shows that connections are associated with higher risks, in particular connections to local government members and state-owned enterprises. The large-scale analysis of buyer-supplier contracting networks points at state capture patterns where groups of buyers and suppliers repeatedly connect in high corruption risk procurement contracts. Such groups have gained more power and control over a larger share of contracts since 2016.

Finally, policy recommendations are provided in three areas: enhancing data scope and quality, introducing a data-driven approach to corruption risk assessment, and improving public procurement policy and practices to reduce noncompetitive tenders.

Read the full paper here