Public procurement to be the focus of the SNS Economic Policy Council 2022

Three economists and one legal expert analyze challenges related to public procurement. Their conclusions will be published next January in the SNS Economic Policy Council Report 2022.

Each year, the Swedish public sector purchases goods and services for more than SEK 700 billion, corresponding to approximately 17 percent of Sweden’s GDP. Deliveries of these goods and services are essential for important functions in areas such as healthcare and infrastructure.

The tender procedure creates competition for public contracts and is expected to result in both lower prices and higher quality. However, problems related to costs, quality, keeping deadlines and cumbersome bureaucratic processes are repeatedly emphasized.

In order to analyze these problems in more detail, SNS has appointed Sofia Lundberg, professor of economics at Umeå University, to serve as chair of the SNS Economic Policy Council 2022. Sofia Lundberg has studied public procurement for a long time. An additional three researchers are included in the council: economists Malin Arve, associate professor at the Norwegian School of Economics in Bergen, and Mats Bergman, professor at Södertörn University, as well as – to strengthen the legal expertise – Lars Henriksson, professor of law at the Stockholm School of Economics.

“We are very pleased that four such experienced researchers are going to study the workings of Swedish public procurement on behalf of SNS. This is an important area with a great impact not only on the public sector but also on the business sector,” says Mia Horn af Rantzien, CEO of SNS.

Among other things, the council will study why things sometimes end up costing more than what was estimated, why the quality is lower than what was agreed upon and why the regulatory framework can be perceived as complicated:

“In the media, we read about delayed infrastructure projects and medical supplies turning out to be significantly more expensive than what was expected – problems that have also grown worse during the pandemic. In the SNS Economic Policy Council Report 2022, we will try to determine possible reasons for this from an economics perspective,” says Sofia Lundberg, chair of the SNS Economic Policy Council 2022.

The researchers will also study why disputes mostly occur in relation to the procurement process and not with regard to fulfilling contractual obligations, as well as why such disputes are more common in Sweden than in most other EU countries. They will also study what the public sector can learn from procurement processes in the business sector.

The report will be published in January 2022. The Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius Foundation contributes to funding this project.