Discussion paper

DP12567 Procurement Centralization in the EU: the Case of Italy

This paper analyzes the process of centralization of public procurement in Europe,
with an emphasis on the Italian case. It illustrates the main normative and regulatory
reforms that took place between 2000 and 2016 at both EU and Italian levels. It then
empirically evaluates the potential distortions induced by the most recent wave of centralization
reforms. Using procurement data on all Italian public contracts awarded
between 2015 and 2017, it finds that administrations expecting to lose their ability to
contract independently game the centralization requirements in three ways. In the short
run, they anticipate their purchases to avoid delegating to a central body. In the longer
run, they both manipulate contract values, breaking down purchases into smaller lots
of amounts below the thresholds driving centralization requirements, and, when given
the option, aggregate into the smallest types of centralized purchasing bodies. These
three distortions partially offset the potential benefits of the centralization reforms.


Decarolis, F (2018), ‘DP12567 Procurement Centralization in the EU: the Case of Italy‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 12567. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp12567