"When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be."
Lord Kelvin

Mapping high-level corruption risks in Spanish public procurement

Alejandro Ferrando Gamir


High-level corruption and fraud has had an increased impact on the social and political debate in Spain, especially since the beginning of the financial crisis when several cuts in social spending were made. Greater attention is being paid to where and how the government spends its public resources. This paper explores the extent and forms of political corruption in Spanish public procurement. Its main contribution is the rich analytical discussion of high-profile corruption scandals involving public procurement, such as the Gürtel case or the Palma Arena case, with particular focus on ‘red flags’ indicating likely corruption in public procurement procedures. It also provides a comprehensive introduction to the Spanish public procurement institutional structure, a comparison with the European public procurement directives, and a broad statistical overview of public procurement in Spain. Another relevant feature of this paper is the in-depth description on how and where to access public procurement information, indicating the main issues that may arise which can be a risk to transparency. Deeper knowledge of the structure, regulatory framework and nature of Spanish public procurement allows, not only to understand the large amount of current corruption scandals in Spain, but also explores the failures and potential improvements.