Procurement mismanagement and the politicisation of bureaucratic transfers in Ghana

Policy brief State

  • Governments in developing countries typically spend over half of their budgets purchasing goods and services from private companies. The mismanagement of this procurement is common in many countries, including Ghana, and can severely undermine development.
  • Common modes of malfeasance include public officials selecting contractors on the basis of personal or partisan connection or receiving kickbacks from firms in return for contracts. This gives elites little incentive to monitor contractors which can potentially lead to contractors producing poorly built infrastructure or not building it at all.
  • This paper analyses public procurement practices within local governments in Ghana by looking at how common uncompetitive procurement practices are and the incentives bureaucrats have to facilitate them.
  • The researchers surveyed 900 civil servants across 80 local governments and found abuse in nearly half of the surveyed bureaucrats. This often derived from the threat of being transferred to less desirable local governments from senior officials.
  • The researchers make 6 policy recommendations for reforming the procurement process and depoliticising the transfer process of bureaucrats.